Category: Pulp Media

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The Mouse House

Almost every holiday, the residents of this house located along Campus Avenue in San Diego neighborhood University Heights bring out decorations galore. My wife and I passed by on Christmas Day. Walking on without taking a photo would have been absolute negligence. The Featured Image, composed as shot, comes from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:17 a.m. PST.

I am not an overly enthusiastic fan of all things Disney. The Magic Kingdom lost its spell about the time I reached adulthood. That’s not a criticism. We all grow out of something.

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Some Things are Better in Black and White

In late-May 2022, we cut the cord for good—and for real—this time. Our first attempt was during June 2013, and we reconnected not long later. Streaming services couldn’t compare for video quality or, when aggregated, price compared to AT&T U-Verse. Each subsequent effort to cord-cut ended with the Wilcox household returning to IPTV or cable connection.

But recent launches of AMC+, Apple TV, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+, to name a few, along with content improvements from standard-bearers like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, make streaming not only appealing but overwhelming. There is too much content. We had opportunity to switch to a local, 5G wireless Internet provider—and ditched U-Verse at the same time. Now we’re cord-cutters in the purest sense since we no longer have wired Internet.

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Return to ‘Game of Thrones’

Over the last couple of weeks, I watched the original “Game of Thrones”, all eight seasons, streamed from HBO Max. My overall impression is much better—with respect to the final, tumultuous episodes that had many fans screaming loud criticism. Continuity is stronger storytelling viewed as a flow from first to the last—stark (no pun intended) difference during the final airing in 2019, when weekly nail-biting waits created so much anxiety and animosity about how the show runners chose to end a story that had advanced beyond the source material (In 2022, George R.R. Martin has yet to catch up the books).

I have two major complaints, though, and both are with the last episode. (Spoilers start here, so stop reading if you haven’t watched the series.) Jon Snow asks Tyrion Lannister about murdering the Dragon Queen: “Was it right? What I did. It doesn’t feel right”. Her death feels wrong. Whoever wrote the dialogue was right to ask the question. Daenerys Targaryen had overcome so many obstacles to reclaim the Iron Throne, only to have everything snatched away so carelessly by a wimpish hand. If Jon Snow had been a fraction of the man that Daenerys was woman, maybe the betrayal would have been better received—or better storytelling, if not at all.

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Serve One Up for Linus

Shouldn’t September 12 be considered a wee bit early for Halloween? Can we not wait until October? But marketing seasonal spicy drinks knows no bounds. The sign stands on the corner of Alabama and Mississippi, outside Mystic Mocha, which is an iconic coffee shop and eatery in my San Diego neighborhood.

The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, today, but I first saw the advert on the eighth. I made shots at two different apertures and fiercely debated with myself about which to share. In the end, I prefer the wider depth of field of the narrower aperture, which keeps the University Heights sign and storefront in the range of focus. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:02 p.m. PDT.

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We Say Sad Goodbye to AT&T U-verse

The Wilcox family was an early adopter when AT&T U-verse arrived in our San Diego neighborhood in February 2008. The IPTV service came with 18Mbps DSL Internet, which we upgraded to 24Mbps in May 2010. During July 2014, we switched off the service in a cut-the-cord experiment that failed; we still needed wired Internet and streaming options turned out to be cumbersome and not cost-savings enough. U-verse returned until November 2015, when we tried all-streaming once more. But AT&T IPTV won us back, not long later.

In October 2017, we moved to a different apartment in University Heights, where seven blocks changed everything: AT&T offered 18Mbps Internet (rather than the 75Mbps we then had) but no U-verse. Cancellation was the only option and switch to competitor Cox. By June 2019, the company could deliver the previous Internet speed and IPTV. We gladly returned to being customers. At Midnight tonight, the relationship ends—and I feel nostalgic about the necessary change.

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‘Soylent Green’ Warned Us About Twenty-Twenty-Two

My preview of this year came during summer 1973 when one of mom’s drive-in movie adventures ended with showing of “Soylent Green”, starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson—both pictured, respectively, in the first screenshot. Mama would have been 32 years old, with four kids piled into an overly spacious, blue Chrysler Plymouth that by today’s gas-guzzling standards was more akin to a boat on four wheels.

I got to thinking about the film a few months back, seeing as how its dystopian future is 2022, when there is supposed to be environmental devastation, famine, overpopulation, riots, war, and wide gulf of wealth and poverty separating the elite class from everyone else. Hold on, does that not describe the year to date?

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Hang On, Woody!

In what could be a real-life scene from film Toy Story, Sheriff Woody precariously hangs from the back of a Toyota Tacoma spotted along Mission Avenue in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Where is Buzz Lightyear to the rescue? Take a closer look at either the Featured Image or companion and you will see that the cowboy doll is pad-a-locked in.

Both photos come from iPhone 13 Pro, yesterday. Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/1698 sec, 26mm; 1:07 p.m. PST. The other: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/319 sec, 77mm; 1:06 p.m. When I showed my wife the second shot, taken first, she observed that it’s not absolutely apparent that Woody hangs off the ground. So I took another.

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If You Work (or Live) Here, I’m Jealous

On the same day, April 11, 2021, that my wife and I walked across the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, we footed down 1st Avenue towards downtown. We wanted to reminisce about our delightful after-theater walk—planes flying low overhead to land—after watching Jesus Christ Superstar on stage at the San Diego Civic Center. That was Nov. 16, 2019, near the start of the 50th anniversary tour, which SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns would end earlier than the planned Aug. 30, 2020 final performance.

At the corner of First and Kalmia, we came across the magnificent structure that is the Featured Image (warning: 30MB file), captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 12:44 p.m. PDT. I reduced exposure in post-production, should you feel that the photo is too dark; that’s deliberately done.

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Make More Movies Like This

Superhero movies don’t really appeal to me, which is major reason I haven’t bothered watching “Justice League” (2017) or any other films in the genre. The so-called “Snyder Cut” debuted on HBO Max, March 18, 2021. Two days ago, the Twitterverse—heck, the universelearned that a black-and-white “Justice is Gray” version is “coming soon” to the streaming service. I love it!

During the early 1990s, I was an editor working for a general-interest magazine based in Washington, DC. I conceived, commissioned, and edited stories for print. Observed trend among successful freelancers: They would take one body of reporting/research and repackage it as different stories for several publications and their respective audiences. It’s a thrifty approach to news gathering that maximizes potential revenue for the writer, improves relationships with print (in this decade online) editors, and expands audience reach. Why shouldn’t filmmaking be something similar?

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Why is Hollywood Obsessed with Viral Armageddon?

I really want to know. That sentence, the title, and a short list of TV Shows about viral epidemics is as far as this post proceeded when I started it on April 26, 2016. I meant to come back many times over the nearly five years since and really regret the failure following the World Health Organization’s declaration of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Still contemplating writing this essay, but not getting to it, I shot and edited the Featured Image on June 11, 2017. San Diego’s Museum of Man (since then renamed to “Us”) featured exhibit “Cannibals: Myth & Reality”. With so many of the virus movies or TV series focused on Zombie apocalypses, the exhibit artwork seemed so perfect illustration. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 2:07 p.m. PDT, Leica Q.

Half a decade later, I wonder: How much did pandemic feature films and TV shows create soil for COVID-19 to grow into a state of global fear—and, as I will opine in six days, far exceeds the real risk posed to the majority of people; whether or not they are infected? Surely, you can guess my answer.

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CLAWS Dig In

We follow up my neighborhood’s lone Trump-Pence 2020 sign with something even more surprising: Black flag that is the Featured Image, which I captured using iPhone XS on August 16. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1229 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 11:51 a.m. PDT. The tabby nicknamed Ranger from my “Cats of University Heights” series lives in the same residence.

Have feline families formed a coalition against racism? Nope. It’s the meeting of art, entrepreneurism, and opportunity. “CLAWS is not a group or organization, it’s my idea/message/statement/artwork/design”, creator Ryan Patterson explains on his Cat Magic Punks page. “If you love cats and are against white supremacy, you’re part of it!”