Category: Pulp Media

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Radio Remembrances

Before the Internet, I listened to shortwave broadcasts for news and cultural information. There was something thrilling about catching radio programs from Australia, Austria, Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Russia, or United Kingdom, among many other countries—hearing local perspectives about all things current or past.

Among the big broadcasters, whose programs I could regularly listen to, BBC and Radio Canada International were favorites. I also found Radio Cuba and HCJB to be engaging, and they were easily received from any of our Washington, DC suburban residences, including the last one of nearly a decade.

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Gaslamp Lights San Diego Comic-Con

I won’t explain how, but today I snagged a legit San Diego Comic-Con 2017 badge for tomorrow. Better one than none. From 2009 through 2016, I had passes to attend all four days but failed to get in the buying queue during Early and Open registrations—in March and April, respectively—nor later get consideration as working journalist. I picked up my last-day badge at the Convention Center around 4:30 p.m. PDT, then moseyed around the Gaslamp Quarter, which is livelier with off-site activities and vendors than I recall from other years. 

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Regarding ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Before my wife started watching the new series streaming from Hulu, I warned her: “I can’t imagine how I would feel if a woman”. I had already finished first hour “Offred” from the production based on 1985 tome The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Three episodes are online now—and their tone and timeliness are visceral and all too familiar, like was the Battlestar Galactica miniseries that followed the 9-11 terrorist attacks by two years. There is something that is too real, too possible—and, unlike the so-called Trump “Resistance”, I don’t refer to the current government in Washington, D.C. No imminent right-wing coup is on the horizon, as so many Liberals want to believe. That’s as fictional as The Handmaid’s Tale.

What’s disturbing is another kind of currency, which is largely lost in the torrent of “it could happen here” commentary: The plight of women portrayed in the series isn’t far removed from what many of them experience elsewhere in 2017. Not in some alternate-reality United States, but across swaths of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—if not both American continents and Europe. Severity may vary by degrees, but where on this planet isn’t there, at the least, some vestige of the subservient, objectified woman? Liberals, who as a class supposedly champion for the human rights of all people, shouldn’t ignore what is while obsessing about what might be for fear it could happen to them. 

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SDCC 2017 Open Registration Failure!

I would like to congratulate all the future San Diego Comic-Con attendees scoring passes today. You are worthyMy luck ran out during Preregistration last month and continued this morning. I had attended the geekfest every year since 2009, and with passes for the full four days and Preview Night.

Feeble chance remains. The deadline for press verification is April 28th, and I will apply. But for reasons unknown to me, without explanation, SDCC stopped validating my media credentials in 2015. Luckily—and gladly—I paid that year and the next. While I now hope to attend in 2017, legitimately, as working press professional, my optimism is faint. 

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My Comic-Con Luck Runs Out

I dreaded this day but mentally prepared—or so it seemed. San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Early Registration commenced this morning. Passes sold out in about an hour, and I got none for any of the four days or Preview Night. I attended continuously, starting in 2009—the first six years as registered press. For reasons unknown to me, SDCC did not “verify” my media status for 2015 or 2016, but I was able to register and pay for the entire event.

Open Registration is still to come, and the convention changed the press submission schedule for the July 19 (Preview Night) – 23 event. Past years: December. Now it’s end of April. Before the new week starts, I will resubmit legitimate materials that, if my luck isn’t exhausted, might lead to press certification and attendance. 

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DirecTV Now and Then

From the day I received the Oct. 14, 2016 letter about billing changes, AT&T U-verse and Internet cancellation was inevitable. I had auto-pay set up to a credit card, but the service provider wanted access to my bank account, which I didn’t want to give. “Beginning in December, your credit card will be charged eight days after your Bill Cycle date”, the correspondence reads. The change meant AT&T would take payment on the 8th of the month rather than the 21st. Since the company bills a month in advance, the new date would work out to about six-weeks in fees paid ahead for future service. On principle, being an independent-minded “don’t tell me what to do” Mainer, I considered other options.

Ironically, the launch of another AT&T service, DirecTV Now, on October 30th, made the decision to cancel super easy. After several starts and stops, the Wilcox household has finally cut the cord for good. DirecTV Now is the nudge, but other streaming services make a big difference, too. Much has changed since the last cord-cutting effort, in November 2015, which we abandoned after about 7 weeks. The quality and quantity of original programming from Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix is greater and hugely enticing 12 months later. 

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Look Who I Met at Comic-Con

I spent today, with my daughter, at San Diego Comic-Con 2016. Finally. My praise to the organization for providing shockingly accessible accessibility services for the temporarily or permanently disabled. Because of corrective eye surgery two days ago, I fit the category for this Con, and hopefully none other. SDCC graciously gave Molly an onsite pass to be my attendant. In introduction, my impaired vision frames an unexpected encounter with Christopher Gorham.

When the surgical procedures are complete, I expect to have as good eyesight as my youth, but without the need for glasses. I wore a pair of dummy ones today, to protect the operated-on right eye (e.g. plastic with no prescription applied to them). Thus, the left eye is a complete blur without a corrective lens. On the right, my vision for things far away is exceptional. But my personal space, out to about a meter, is blurred out; my visual range will normalize sometime after the dilated pupil normalizes. So, yeah, Molly’s assistance is helpful. 

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Red Shirts Mark My Comic-Con Blues

I won’t attend all, or even most, of San Diego Comic-Con as planned this week. SDCC is the only event I look forward to all year. But an opportunity came to undergo corrective surgery in one of my eyes (the other follows in a few weeks) sooner than expected. I will be at the Con Wednesday night but not Thursday (gonna be under the scalpel—or is it laser—that day) and probably not Friday (when is the post-op exam). Perhaps the surgeon will okay Sunday and hopefully even Saturday.

My eighth year of attendance is a bust, but I am super fortunate to get July 21st for the surgery. I had looked forward to Star Trek’s 50th year, which will get big celebration throughout the four days and Preview Night—starting with the “Star Trek Beyond” premiere. Given my truncated plans combined with my paying to attend (no press pass), I will go as a participant rather than a documentarian for the first time. 

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SDCC 2016 Badge Changes

Well, this is a development. My San Diego Comic-Con 2016 badge arrived this afternoon—and much is changed from previous years. I attend for the eighth consecutive time, and the second as paying attendee rather than press. Previously, badges were given onsite. Now, beforehand, they are mailed out, with built-in RFID that is scanned on event entry. Presumably, the electronically-read tags will reduce fakes and increase movement in, out, and around the venue.

Like last year, I plan to attend all four days and the Preview Night, which is July 20. I count myself lucky to, on Nov. 14, 2015, plow through the random-selection queue and buy a pass. Entire event is a coup. Many people who want to attend get fewer days, if any. I paid $245 for the privilege, and I will work the show as if a press-pass holder. 

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BBC’s ‘Bathroom Bill’ Story is the Worst Kind of Journalism

This analysis is not a commentary about North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law, but the irresponsible and unethical news reporting about it. I am appalled by the headline and dek of a BBC story posted earlier today. Quoting the latter: “North Carolina is suing the U.S. Department of Justice over its attempts to bar the state from upholding its anti-LGBT ‘bathroom bill'”.

While many people might agree with “anti-LGBT” as descriptor, BBC nevertheless shouldn’t use it. Doing so makes a value judgement and demonstrates bias rather than neutral news reporting. Even using LGBT without the “anti” is biased. Also, as a foreign news agency, regardless reputation, the Beeb makes moral pronouncements that may not reflect those of the country that it reports about. The headline and dek implicitly impose values, and that should not be the news report’s goal—all while diminishing, if not ignoring, the rationale behind the legislation. 

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‘Bummer! Bummer!’

In Night Gallery story “Hells Bells”, actor John Astin dies in a car crash. Entering the afterlife, he knows the destination isn’t Heaven. He finds himself in a room with phonograph and stack of vinyl records, and that tempts his hippy ways until, rather than rock and roll, he hears big band music. Next appears an older gent dressed in overalls who only talks about life on the farm, followed by a couple ready to show 8,500 slides of their vacation to Tijuana, Mexico. Angry, Astin yells: “I want to see the Devil. Where are you, man? Show your ugly face!”

“Having a good time?” The Devil appears and asks. “Hell is never what you expect it to be. But for you, this is it. Don’t you like it?” “No it’s a downer”, Astin answers. “Yes it is, isn’t it,” the Devil agrees, nodding. “You know, it’s a curious thing. They have exactly the same room up there…You see, while this room is Hell for you, absolutely beastly Hell, up there the identical room is someone else’s idea of Heaven”.

I feel something similar about a package received from Photojojo yesterday. What disappoints me, and grandly, might delight someone else—although I can’t imagine whom