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Conjuring plot ideas for Star Wars VII based on revealed names

By Michael Vass | December 13, 2014

A few days ago the names of the characters in the Star Wars VII teaser trailer have been revealed. After thinking about it, and a few of the rumors that have been floated in the past, I am even more underwhelmed than before. Let me explain.

First, I have had no access to any information other than what any fan can find on the internet. Second, I am old enough to be able to say that I have been a fan of Star Wars since the original film came out (though Stephen Colbert has me, and everyone, by 2 weeks at least). Third, I did not like prequels (besides a few of the lightsaber fights) nor the news of Disney’s purchase of the rights – so call me biased if you like.

By now we have all seen the teaser trailer for Star Wars VII. The names of the characters, as they appear in the trailer is as follows:

  • Finn – the Black Storm trooper
  • BB-8 – the droid (on top of the spinning ball – which may in fact be its body)
  • Rey – the woman on the Speeder
  • Poe Dameron – pilot in the X-Wing
  • Kylo Ren – the Sith

    What the trailer and these names seem to imply falls in line with a rumor for the plot of the story for this film. If the rumor is partially correct, then the names kind of make sense. We can extrapolate a few things.

    Starting with Finn. He is either the son/grandson of Lando Calrissian or a new character. Since he does not have a last name, being Lando’s relative is possible (plus the fact that there were no other named Black major characters in the series). Why he would be in a Stormtrooper suit and/or on the run could be that he was spying on the remnants of the Empire.

    Rey is another possible relation of existing characters. Her name means king in Spanish. Instantly we would think she is the daughter of Han and Leia, which is possible since Leia was royalty. But she may be Luke’s daughter, the granddaughter of Darth Vader who also had far more than ordinary rank. Either way she will be on the light-side of the force and have a lightsaber. She will be the Luke of the next 3 chapters.

    Lastly I look at Kylo Ren. If he is a Sith (assuming it is a he) it is unlikely this is his real name.

    Take these things into account with who we know is in the film. Max Von Syndow is a perfect bad guy/political leader type. In fact he is often cast in just such a role. Best of all he is often morally ambiguous if not outright an evil bad guy in most Hollywood films.

    Adam Driver, the only Marine of the cast that I am aware of, could be the Sith. Andy Serkis is king of Motion Capture, so he is some CGI creature – possibly this new generation Chewbacca, but likely just an alien co-lead character of a new race (think of the new toy sales).

    So the story may be something like this:

    Finn was on a long-term deep cover assignment in territory controlled by the remnants of the Empire after the death of the Emperor and victory by the rebels in Episode VI. This may have been suggested by Lando Calrissian, likely a spymaster or head of a trade/pirate guild after the war. During the assignment, Finn came into contact with the head of the smaller Empire forces – Von Syndow.

    Whatever Finn learned or was able to steal (likely plans for another planet threatening weapon that the Empire intends to use for conquest) has him trying to evade Domhnall Gleeson, who is an agent of the Empire and closely connected to Von Syndow. Whatever Finn has is too important to trust to a simple message or delivery system, and spies for the Empire raise questions about delivery via more diplomatic means.

    Finn will likely come upon Serkis, an old rebel fighter in possession of BB-8, who has contacts to a network of former rebels. This will get him in touch with Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and their daughter Rey. Han and Leia will be remiss about trusting Finn or the Republic, having had a falling out with the new government decades ago. Still they will try to use their contacts to help Finn, cause them to be captured as Rey takes the Millennium Falcon to escape as Empire forces have tracked Finn. At the same time, Poe leads a squad of X-Wings to take on the TIE fighters due to the contact from Leia, and is the sole survivor of the battle, gaining the trust of Serkis, Rey, and Finn.

    So far that kind of fits the trailer. It gets a bit more wobbly here…

    Being unable to trust the Republic at this point, with the Empire on their heels, and with knowledge that the Empire’s plan relies on some Force-fueled whatever, they seek out Luke. Luke has gone into hiding due to the distrust of the new Republic government for anything Jedi, especially as the only remaining publicly known Jedi are both related to Darth Vader. The emptiness of being alone and rejected, and the near fall to the dark-side of the Force have left Luke with a less than heroic view of the universe. To redeem himself, and the Jedi, Luke has sought out any remaining Force-users that could be used to revive the Jedi.

    That effort brought Luke into contact with Kylo. Luke is trying to convert this Sith trainee of Darth Vader to the light-side. The results are mixed, thus Kylo still uses a red crystal lightsaber.

    When Rey and friends reach Luke, after much difficulty, they initially think Kylo is their enemy and battle him (Rey has a lightsaber from her mother who trained her). Eventually Luke stops the fight, and learns why they sought him out. Luke instructs his apprentice to travel with Rey and friends to the new Republic headquarters, before the Empire can launch an attack. Luke fears that there is someone guiding Von Syndow that is connected to the dark-side of the Force, and decide to track that person.

    The film culminates with a big battle between the new Republic and new Empire. In the process Han, Leia, et al are freed, though likely wounded (requiring they stay out of future films for the most part, as well as fix the problem in the Republic). Luke faces the new dark Emperor, a clone of the original Emperor who fights Luke and captures him with the intention of making him his right hand just as his father was.

    The film ends with the new Republic withstanding what we learn is the first round of a new war with the Empire, the fate of Luke uncertain, and the allegiance of Kylo unclear.

    Will the film be like this? Probably not a whole lot. Parts of it may be on the mark.

    Luke may well be the new Sith controlling the Empire via Von Syndow. Kylo could be Luke as a Sith. Adam Driver may be his apprentice.

    So that is my extrapolating. Plenty of holes in my construct, and not fully fleshed out. But then again, JJ Abrams is not known for tight scripts. This next episode will likely be fast-paced, lots of action, and sparse on logic or content. It will be a blockbuster for a popcorn audience that will fill seats, raise Disney stock price, sell tons of toys in time for Christmas, and I fear will tread on the hopes of the fanbase.

    Will episode VII be better than the prequels? Assuredly. Will it recapture the awe and imagination that the first trilogy created? No, that’s unlikely. Will it live up to the Hollywood model of CGI for practical effects, super heroines and bumbling male leads? Without question. But there is still time to hope that it will surpass the prequels without just being another hype filled, black-hole in the pockets of fans.

  • Topics: Movie Previews and Reviews, Uncategorized | No Comments »

    2015 Movie Trailer – Wild Card – starring Jason Statham

    By Michael Vass | December 13, 2014

    In modern Hollywood, remakes are not only a constant, but for some actors it is a means of steady work. More and more, Jason Statham is becoming an actor of this ilk. He has already been in 6 feature films that are direct remakes. In 2015, his 7th remake will hit theaters.

    Jason Statham is easily the most successful action star of the new millennium. He has a total of 39 films since 1998 that he has or is scheduled to appear in. Of those, his major successes have been the Transporter and Expendables series. In total, including scheduled films to 2016, Statham has appeared in 25 action films.

    What is of note is that in each of the remakes with Statham, all are remakes of films from the 1970′s. It would seem that Statham has an affinity for that time period. Or directors are drawn to Statham to bring current day action and sensibilities to the unrepentant machismo of the 1970′s films.

    The latest remake, Wild Card, appears to be an unflinching copy of Burt Reynolds’s film Heat (not to be confused with the DeNiro/Pacino heist film of the same name but vastly different plot). This new film has Statham playing a gambling addict/hired muscle exactly the same as Reynolds portrayed. The films are set in Las Vegas. The motivation in the film, and the villain, match up as if cloned.

    So where does the Statham film detract from the original? It wouldn’t be suggested to take any bets on the resolution with the antagonist of the film (though the film has not been seen as yet). Perhaps the only real difference will be if director Simon West (Expendables 2) decides to take the same revisionist tones with this film as he did in the remake of The Mechanic – also starring Statham.

    If the film does follow the trend of most current remakes, and the prior film by director West, then it will be an enjoyable film. The current generation of movie-goers are unlikely to have seen the original film and thus it should be a fresh experience for them. Fans of Burt Reynolds will likely be less impressed, but they would be a minority of the target audience of this film.

    The biggest thing that should be said about this film is that it will not be the action-fest most Statham fans will be hoping for. In fact, unless director West seriously departs from the original screenplay (which seems unlikely based on the movie trailer), this will be a film more dialogue and character driven than kicks or blades. How fans react to Jason Statham as a more dramatic actor may mean future films with less and less action as Statham transitions into more conventional acting roles.

    The result, based on the trailer and the way The Mechanic generally mimicked the theme of the original, is likely another fast paced yet unremarkable trip down memory lane. Perhaps the most original thing about the remake, other than the actual fight scenes with Statham, may be the following: **Potential SPOILER ALERT** Once again it is likely that the original ending will be filmed as a mirror version. **End potential SPOILER**

    Topics: Movie Previews and Reviews | No Comments »

    Neo Scavenger – early access – gameplay and review

    By Michael Vass | November 23, 2014

    There are more than a few gems out in the wold of early access video games. These are video games that may be in the Alpha or Beta stage of development. Games that don’t have the final polish found in the launch of major video game publishers, like Dragon Age: Inquisition, and may have the occasional bug. But these games often prove to be worth the discount of cost and the issues that may be involved. Neo Scavenger, in Beta at this time, proves to be a gem with few flaws, and worth the money.

    Video game - Neo Scavenger

    Neo Scavenger is a video game by Blue Bottle Games, an independent video game publisher. The video game is a turn-based, post-apocalypse, survival game. A unique niche, and a game that may not fit the perceptions gamers might have for the genre of survival.

    Neo Scavenger is not, currently at least, graphically stunning. It’s more of a throwback to the video games of the 1980′s. Graphics more akin to the old pixelated days of Tomb Raider, but not quite that rough. Simple graphics on a 2D hexagonal map with static images. Which may sound unapealing at a time of games like Mass Affect or Star Craft II, but the benefit is the lack of distractioon on the core elements of the game.

    In terms of the soundtrack, it is a bit repetative. Luckily it is also fitting with the gameplay and mostly far enough in the background that a player will likely forget it’s there. Occassionally the track will change to a more base driven theme that will remind the player of the soundtrack and tend to intensify the mood of the game.

    At the core Neo Scavenger is about choices. What would you carry if you have little room to carry anything at all? Where would you go, if you don’t know where you are going? What skills will help you survive challenges you don’t know will occur? It goes on from there. These choices, are what make the game compelling and frustrating at the same time.

    The choices start at the character creation screen. Choices of skills like Electrician, Hiding, Strong, Tough, Botany and more are available for the player. Which is the right choice, or even how they might apply in the game are unknown. Are the skills needed for the early game, mid-game, or end-game? Will any choice help or hurt as the game progresses? Players on the first several tries through will never know.

    I say the first several tries as you can expect to die a few times before things become clear. Hypothermia, starvation, dehydration, are just a few of the things that can kill a character early in a new game. Which says nothing of the random map and supplies that are generated each time a new game is created. Then there are the other things that could kill a game in later stages – like infections and plague.

    But these things add to the challenge, and will likely cause a player to want to go at it again and not make the same mistake twice. Initial triumphs might be a simple as surviving combat, living for a week or more, exploring areas of the map, or even as simple as finding a sleeping bag or pants. The complexity of the game mechanics grows as the player lives longer and learns more about the world they find themselves in. It is an apt translation of the mystery that the character experiences upon waking in a world he does not know, and a past he cannot remember.

    There are flaws though. The character creation does not allow for the image of the character to be altered in any way. He is always a nondescript male, apparently white, with indeterminate weight and height. Games cannot be saved and a new game started. There is only one save available – so any past save is overwritten. The game lacks a tutorial, and may factors that can kill a character are unknown until you die of them.

    The game is highly open-ended. That is that there is no real path to progress, other than a hint early in the game that some may not remember or understand. Another hint appears if a character makes it to the right place in the game, but that is is. How to advance in the game is left to the player overall. There is no skill tree, nor experience to speak of. Characters can learn to do things, either by finding receipes or figuring out how to do things, but there is no indication in-game of when something has be learned for crafting.

    Add to that the fact that the graphics are dull. Combat, once figured out, can be a bit repeatitive. The absolute randomness of supplies can either be a blessing or a curse at any point in the game. All that said, the game is an early access game. Many of these things may change. Then again, they may not.

    Ultimately, for $10 on STEAM, the value and fun of the game exceeds the price paid. This is a game that many fans of turn-based strategy, survival, future apocalypse and even zombies (though the game has mutants instead) may enjoy.

    Rating: 7.5 out of 10

    ** Here are some actual gameplay videos. The video quality is not the best as these video was not captured but recorded. Game graphics are better than shown. ***

    Neo Scavenger game intro – Day 1 ingame

    Neo Scavenger game – Day 1 ingame, part 2

    Neo Scavenger game – Day 2, part 1

    Neo Scavenger video game – Day 2, part 2

    Topics: Video Games | No Comments »

    Video Game Review: Wasteland 2

    By Michael Vass | September 21, 2014

    Wasteland 2 video game
    After much anticipation and 16 years of waiting, the sequel to the Wasteland video game has arrived. Released on 9/19/14, for $40, the game is an RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world. To be exact, the state of Arizona which in the game may, or may not be the only civilized spot left on the planet. You are a rookie para-military enforcer of the law, seeking to avenge a comrade in arms and keep the peace.
    Many of the current generation of video game players may not be familiar with the original game. In fact many may not have been born when the original game was released. But in addition to Wasteland 2, purchase on Steam comes with the original game for those interested. Since the original is so old, we won’t review that.

    Wasteland 2 is immediately different than most video games in that the CGI graphic story intro that is common in almost every game is in this game actual video of real people and location. A unique change of pace from the norm that gives a more personal touch to the game and helps to involve the player into the setting. From the into the game shifts into modern video game graphics that are detailed and fresh.

    While a wee bit towards the cartoonish, the look of characters on screen are detailed enough to suit modern eyes. The landscape in the main screen is bright and not as washed out as one might expect for a desert post-apocalypse game. The map screen is large and adds a scope of immensity to what otherwise might be considered a very small game area. Images in the character inventory for each weapon, ammo, and random junk items are distinct. That allows for immediate understanding of whether you have gotten a Midnight special revolver, a Navy Colt revolver, or a sub-machine gun. Higher quality weapons in the same class also are visually distinct and clear, making it easy to know who has what loaded as a primary or secondary weapon. Monsters, robots, and even a group of bad guys are easily identified from each other.

    The sounds and music of the game are equally up to snuff. Without being too overbearing, the ambient sounds of the various towns and cities are around enough to notice. Music while loading different areas is the same track, but not enough to bore or aggravate. Plus load times when entering a city/town local are brief enough to prevent major distraction from the game. Faster load times would have been better though, still with an average of about 15-20 seconds on our system it’s not bad compared to other games.

    The thing about the sounds that will really stand out though are the radio broadcasts, which are integral to the game. They will vary from a repetitive message every time you gain levels (so repetitive that after the first 3 or 4 times you will just wind up clicking through the message immediately), to very clear and often horrific screams and pleas for help, to not quite gibberish ranting. But as the radio message are so important, it’s a good thing that the audio comes across as clear and robust.

    The game play itself is also interesting. From the start, at character creation, the game gets detailed. For those not familiar with RPG’s it may even be a bit daunting as there is not explanation of how you would want to set up your character and the 3 AI companions you will set out with. This is somewhat balanced by the fact that there are several generally arch-type based pre-set characters available at character creation. As a bonus, even those characters attributes and skills (and look) can be modified if you want to.

    Once the video game starts there is some interaction with various NPC available. Plus a quick into to the fighting mechanics if you choose to take that option. Be aware that this came is text heavy. There are voiceovers for much of the interactions and radio messages, but there is also a bit of reading that comes into play – depending on who is the character involved in the conversation. Repeat conversations with NPC’s may also reveal new information at a later time and/or level of skill.

    **Hint: Specialization is a benefit to the game. As it progresses, a jack of all trades will not be as useful as a more specialized character in many situations. The pre-generated characters reflect this already.**

    The load time to the world travel map is not too bad, as stated previously. The interaction with the travel make is simple and easy to operate. Sadly you can’t review or manipulate character profiles and gear while in the world map. Nor can you review any missions that are on-going, which is a bit annoying, as you may have several potential destination and priority is a factor in the game.

    Progress across the world is pretty open-ended, though there are consequences for going to one mission over another, or ignoring a mission. But it is your choice where you go. You can also leave a mission, though not while you are in combat. In addition, the occasional random encounter will occur in the world map – though you may be able to avoid some of them due to team skills or other factors.

    Combat is turn based, like the rest of the game. Cover is important, though some cover can be destroyed – by you or the AI. The different skills and weapons of the character come into play especially in these moments. Loot is generally junk with occasional weapon/ammo drops. Sometimes there will even be upgraded weapons. Loot can be left and reclaimed later, as long as you remain in that same city/town without interruption.

    Choices in combat will make a difference. The AI will, depending on the setting, go to higher ground, flank, and seek cover. While not perfect, the AI reacts well and provides a suitable challenge on most levels.

    So is Wasteland 2 worth the money? For fans of RPG solo team video games, yes. The game may be a bit daunting on the very first character set-up, but it becomes clear how to do, and what you want to do, in the game. Without overly dense visuals, the cities and towns are dense in interactions and NPC’s. Most of all you are drawn into this game world via the urgency of calls over the radio, the missions you undertake, and the improvement of skills to do all the above.

    Little things like object interactions clash preventing clicking on this or that are easily remedied by moving the screen a bit. It would be nice if trying to run out of a combat that was accidentally started was possible (if you start a combat you will be in it until resolved). Improving the world map, as stated prior, also would be a help. The same could be said about being able to see the gear of all your characters at once, but these are minor issues that generally don’t take away from the quiet but persistent feeling you are under the gun and the clock is against you always.

    So overall Wasteland 2 is well worth the money and will provide more than a few different play throughs, that will differ enough to make it worth doing again. It’s also likely that DLC content and follow-up games will not take another 16 years of waiting.

    Topics: Video Games | No Comments »

    Mad Max Fury Road trailer – impressions

    By Michael Vass | July 27, 2014

    It’s been a while since I have been in action on the entertainment side of things, due to the hiatus for my run for Congress, but I thought the reboot of Mad Max would be a great place to jump back into the action.

    Action is the name of the game in the trailer for this movie. There is lots of it. But before I say more, take a look at what George Miller has done.

    Lots of post-apocalypse cars, speeding and crashing down roads. Tons of CGI effects. More than a few references to several core elements of the prior Mad Max films. So this should be a great film, right?

    Probably not. How could I say this? Am I not seeing the same thing as everyone else? Yes and no.

    Taking the trailer from the start, this is obviously a reboot of The Road Warrior. The world as we know it has ended and the 2 things everyone wants is water and gasoline. Degenerate gangs roam the roads and countryside seeking both and killing those they meet. Most of the time.

    Our hero, in the trailer, is chased down and caught by the film’s bad guy gang. A pretty small gang compared to Road Warrior, but more than enough to take down Max. The gang is an odd mix of characters that do not convey the feeling of intimidation that Humongous immediately provided in the original film. Instead we get, apparently, a painted albino witch doctor – or at least that’s how it cam across to me.

    These terrors of the road then proceed to tattoo Max, for reasons that must have occurred prior in the film. They then tie Max to a massively scaled down (compared to original film) lead vehicle, again for unknown reasons. The question that came to mind through all this is while it was interesting action to watch, why were they keeping Max alive? It they are such horrors, or so angry with him to chase him down (apparently for fuel the trailer seems to imply) what is the point? The film should answer this, but it stands out as a potential weak plot point of the movie – especially as the trailer implies that Max is in this state for an extended period of time.

    There is a bluster of CGI effects and road chases, none of which seems very connected to anything. There is the tanker truck from the original, though Max is not driving. It seems unconnected to the original films purpose. It is also filled with several women – no men – most of whom look like they belong in a Greek sword and sandals film, at least at first glance.

    In fact, the apparent main female lead – Charlize Theron – looks more like the original Mel Gibson Mad Max than Tom Hardy does. I caught myself wondering if this was another Hollywood pro-feminism revisioning that has been popular in reboots since the 70′s. Usually films that do that fall flat (the reboot of The Hitcher comes to mind but there are other examples).

    Tom Hardy’s Max looks weak throughout the trailer. Other than the opening seconds, he is relegated to an unimpressive side character status and displays none of the foreboding or intimidating qualities of Gibson’s portrayal. Which makes me fear that this will be another revisioned film that wants to fix the originals lack of explanation on the motivations of the bad guy and a host of characters that no one remembers the name of (like Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot). If so, that is another negative, as why the bad guys are bad really doesn’t matter. The world and its rules have ended, and these are bad people doing bad things – what more do the audience need? How does knowing they miss their childhood teddy bear matter or affect the fact that they are dismembering strangers for gasoline?

    As for Charlize Theron, in the trailer, she looks live a savior of the film. Definitely going for the Ellen Ripley image, she seems in charge and attuned to the savage nature of the world – as opposed to the other women surrounding her. The clash of the female character presentations is stark and jarring. But overall the trailer makes me wonder if the Mad Max of this film is in fact Mad Maxine. Which still might be good, but not what is being sold to audiences and therefore will result in disappointment and a bad movie.

    The big sell in the Mad Max films has always been the cars and chases. This film definitely looks like it will fill the screen with a chase or several of them, but the scale is massively diminished and thus the impressiveness with it. 5 cars with one or 2 people chasing one person is a bad day, but the originals 20 cars filled to overstuffing with bad guys is a race for your life.

    Worse, The cars in the trailer are bland. They lack the monsterous and vicious feel of the originals cars. In the trailer the cars feel like beaters with a really bad custom job, belonging more in a circus or demolition derby than killing machines driven by fanatics that are well past the edge of desperation and functionality.

    Lastly, there is the look of the film. Oversaturated so much it kind of reminds me of Pitch Black. Washed out and devoid of details, and sadly the details really matter. Seeing the wind-burned faces and savage land weary faces that are wrinkled and scarred matters in this type of film. Given that the major bad guy leads looked ultra-clean in the original, still the generic masses made up for that. The original had a feeling, just from the look of it, that everyone was tired, beaten down, and stretched thin – from their clothes to the vehicles. The trailer make me feel like everyone just needs some sun-tan lotion and those UV glasses you see on infomercials. It doesn’t doesn’t make me feel like the world is bleak, just that the photographer picked the wrong lens for the film – which means I’m not connected to the film, another negative.

    OK, I have to mention it. CGI. The go to effect of modern films that are hiding a lack of substance in the film itself. Yes the sandstorm and cave look cool. So does the lightning effect. But it also doesn’t look real. Not quite cartoonish, but definitely over the top. I don’t feel like I am in that world (though I am sure there will be 3-D versions of the film that will try to give that impression in these scenes) but watching someone’s bad description of a world that I have no connection with.

    All of this may be fixed in the film itself. Maybe other trailers will add the things I feel are lacking, or questionable. But with the anticipation of this film, the first trailer was supposed to be the knock-out punch that sells the film. It doesn’t. But it does make me predict that this film will live up to none of the things that fans love about the original series.

    For a different take on what the trailer means, I invite you to check out the thoughts of friends of mine, Epic Film Guys. They should have their comments soon, and they have interesting views on many films – I know because we have had long debates often.

    Topics: Movie Previews and Reviews | 1 Comment »

    Video of NY 22nd Congressional District exploratory committee announcement

    By Michael Vass | April 24, 2013

    The following is video of the full speech, as well as Q&A, for Michael “Vass” Vasquez. Mr. Vasquez has stated he will be launching an exploratory committee to evaluate a run for the 22nd Congressional District – currently held by fellow Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.

    Mr. Vasquez is the president of M V Consulting Inc. and a writer to this blog. Due to the conflict of interest, Mr. Vasquez will no longer be providing his political commentary or reporting while pursuing a path to elected office. In addition, Mr. Vasquez will be ceasing his work for the Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com.

    Speech given outside of the Broome County Courthouse

    Q & A with Peter Quinn of WBGH

    Q & A with YNN

    Further information about the exploratory committee and the efforts of Mr. Vasquez to pursue elected office can be found at http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com

    Topics: Uncategorized, Video Commentary | No Comments »

    Transcript: Michael “Vass” Vasquez announces exploratory committee

    By Michael Vass | April 24, 2013

    Michael "Vass" Vasquez - President of M V Consulting, Inc.

    Michael ‘Vass’ Vasquez – President of M V Consulting, Inc.

    Hello and thank you all for joining me today.

    Many of you may know me as Michael Vass, my business name found on the thousands of articles and political commentary I have written over the past 7 years, found in virtually all search engines. But today I want to introduce myself with my actual name of Michael Vasquez. Because now is the time for full disclosure and forthright answers. Because now we must expect more, and deserve to get more.

    Back when I was a stockbroker in the 1990′s, I registered Michael Vass as my business name with the SEC. Since that time I have continued to used it in all my business ventures, including my political commentary. Writing about politics can often stir many emotions, and the internet is a vast place where some react in less than savory ways. Sometimes these negative reactions can even lead to real world extremes and danger. But as of today I am giving up this layer of protection, because voters in the NY 22nd District deserve to know who is speaking to them.

    Over nearly a decade I have been actively reporting and following issues from the local to the international level. I have written literally tens of thousands of words, conveying both the problems facing the nation as well as the efforts of our elected officials to resolve these issues. Often, like many of us all, I have felt the frustration as political gridlock stalled efforts and legislation after legislation either went unread or was altered such that it became ineffective. For more than a decade Congress has garnered ever lower approval ratings. The net result is a Government that is failing the populace.

    Like others in the news media and over the internet, I have made great effort to convert the polispeak that is common in Government, and delved into more than just the 30 second soundbites that pass for explanations of what is being done on behalf of constituents. I have interviewed elected officials and candidates of both Parties, and presented unedited video so a complete record is available to the public.

    The hope was that this added attention could help to promote a renewed accountability among elected officials – but even with the full weight of the internet and news media, Government continues to act without connection to the average American.

    It’s because of this lack of connection, this inaction, this ineptitude if we want to be really honest, that I first considered running for elected office. The fact that 47% of Congress, which includes members of both Parties, are millionaires, and more than a 1/3 are career politicians, added to my thoughts. The fact that some 59% of the public (according to recent polls) feel the nation is on the wrong path, solidified my conviction and confirmed my feelings. As this day approached, I drew inspiration from the past.

    103 years ago today, President Theodore Roosevelt made a historic speech. That speech conveyed an important message – the man in the arena. He said,

    “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    I take from that speech the need for average Americans to be directly involved with how Government is run. To ensure that Government, at all levels, is accountable and responsive to the needs of the public. Because career politicians and millionaires, good people that they are, are not the average American living day-to-day with the concerns of the masses. They do not feel the impact of their decisions in the same way that your family and friends and children feel it. That does not make them bad people as some insist, but it does make them out of touch and unconnected to the needs of the voters they represent.

    Congress needs to reconnect to the public it serves. Government must be reminded that its purpose is to provide only what the public cannot. Those in elected office, and those that would seek it, must raise the bar on what is to be expected, strived for, and achieved.

    Thus it is in the spirit of one of the great American Presidents, on the anniversary of his speech praising the sweat and labor of the average American, that I am launching my exploratory committee for the 2014 NY 22nd Congressional seat.

    In the coming weeks and months I look forward to meeting with the constituents of the NY 22nd District. I look forward to sharing my views and making sure that the 2014 election is about the concerns of voters and their needs. That the election will be about getting these things done, improving the quality of life for this generation and those to come.

    For those interested in learning more about me, I suggest my website http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com or come see me speaking across the 22nd District.

    As voters we expect more, and in 2014 let’s get it.

    Thank you

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