Tag: Culture

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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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The Man on the Street

This afternoon, while walking along Adams Ave. in Normal Heights, I passed what appeared to be a homeless man sitting on a cement step inside an abandoned storefront doorway. He was grizzled but neat, with the leathery-brown skin hue common among people overexposed to the Southwestern Sun. His hair and beard bled gray all over what might have one time been black.

As I passed, he stopped over, arms resting on knees, alongside a small, black luggage bag with wheels and pulled-out handle. About 5 meters beyond him, my pace slowed. I rarely carry cash but today had a 10 dollar bill, which is more money than I usually give—and he had asked for none. I turned around and walked back, finding him up and moving. We passed. I hesitated once more then spun back and spoke. 

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The ‘Cesarean is Safer’ Lie

So I’m sitting at McDonald’s with my 93 year-old father-in-law, who likes to eat from the all-day breakfast menu for lunch. Behind him, across the aisle, sit three elderly gents who don’t look to be quite as old but nevertheless it’s a 70-plus group. They gather daily apparently.

One man announces that he can’t make lunch tomorrow. “My daughter is having a baby”. When, another geezer asks. “At 9:30 in the morning” is the answer. “How do you know?” I could answer that one, and the reason why. I lean forward and listen with greater focus. “She’s having a Cesarean”, the man answers. What he says next chills my bones and inflames my anger: The doctor says that the procedure is “safer” than natural childbirth. 

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A Lesson in Perception

So I’m driving down my street behind this white pickup truck going unusually slow before speeding up then hitting the brakes. Repeatedly. My frustration mounts. But at one-cross street, I finally see around. There is a sedan in the lead, driving in obviously taunting manner. The scenario is obvious: Pickup truck tail-gated, and the other drive retaliates. His vehicle moves along, the truck moves in closer, and he slows down. I’ve seen this kind of thing before.

All the while, I can see from arm waving in the cab that the pickup driver grows increasing angry. Road rage in front turns into retaliation rage behind, I trail both vehicles. Finally, after a few more abrupt slowdowns, the sedan comes to a four-way stoplight, where the truck roars left around, cutting in front of the car and making an illegal right on red. When the light turns green, the four-door pulls up behind the white two-door. Now aggressions are reversed. 

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Bump Art

Sometimes I am shocked to find myself out of touch with popular culture—and that’s a terrible admission living in Southern California, where pronounced body art can be seen everywhere. Yet, not until yesterday’s Flickr Blog post “Belly Paining” and link to small gallery of photos had I ever seen such a thing.

Yeah, my wife and I are middle-aged parents with a daughter in college—removed from immediate contact with expectant-mother lifestyle. Nevertheless, how in the land of tattoos could I miss something so interesting, creative, and personally expressive? What a wonderful way to celebrate the joys (and hardships) of pregnancy. 

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Where No Values Have Gone Before

For more than two weeks I have kept open in a browser tab essay “How Star Trek Explains the Decline of Liberalism” by Timothy Sandefur. Someone shared the story in one of my social feeds in mid-September—and apologies for not recalling whom. I don’t agree with the title, set against the writing, but I do largely agree with the analysis about Star Trek’s reflection of our society over the course of 50 years.

I loved the original series, which aired in 1966. Much as I liked, and even imitated Spock, Kirk’s bravado and moralism rapt my attention. He acted rather than hesitated. Meanwhile, series creator Gene Roddenberry and his producers, directors, and writers used the storytelling as metaphors and allegories commenting on American society and its values. I aspired to be like James Tiberius Kirk: Do the right thing, for the greater good of all, regardless the risk. 

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I Am Cusper

Sometimes you just want to claim credit where it’s due. While searching for one thing I came across another related to a word coined by me about two decades ago. I hadn’t realized that the term slowly makes its way into the vernacular, with others credited for the origins. How rude!

I turned 56 nearly a fortnight ago, which makes me a 59er—as in born in 1959. Problem: I never really embraced the values or attitudes of Baby Boomers, even though by the time-span fixture established by social scientists, I belong with that generational group. Much more of my behavior and thinking aligns with Generation Xers. I sought for a word to describe myself—being born on the cusp between generations. I called myself a Cusper, starting in the mid-1990s. In January 2001, I registered the cusper and cuspers dot com, net, and org domains. 

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Flickr a Day 198: ‘Folklore and Youth’

Nothing produces a portrait like a prime lens in competent hands. Marjan Lazarevski shot today’s selection on May 27, 2013, using Canon EOS 600D and EF 50mm f/1.8 II. Vitals: f/2, ISO 800, 1/500 sec. But self-titled “Folklore and Youth” takes the Day as much for the contextual storytelling around it.

Based in Skopje, Macedonia, Marjan often captures moments that illuminate local culture. “Macedonian national costumes are part of the material culture of the Macedonian people and they are important branch of the Macedonian folk art”, he says.

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Comic-Con House of Worship

I lied, but didn’t mean to. Turns out that my “Final SDCC 2015 Reflection” isn’t. I have another. Whether or not you believe in the existence of God, or some kind of deliberate creator, ponder this observation: Comic-Con, more than any other gathering, reveals how much human beings need to worship. Some evolutionist might argue that such innate genetic trait leads us to manufacture deities and religion. God believers could point to the fallen human condition and idolatry replacing pure faith.

Whether you accept either, neither, or something else, nevertheless ponder what San Diego Comic-Con and events like it represents: People gather to worship what or whom they see as being greater than themselves—fictional superheroes, artists who create them, writers who tell their stories, actors who portray them, and directors, producers, showrunners and others who bring them to film and to video. 

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The Heroes Are Us

Tomorrow night begins my seventh sojourn to the greatest geekfest and pop-culture event on the planet. Imitator shows are everywhere this Century, but none commands character and class like the original. San Diego Comic-Con is an amazing amalgamation of hopes and aspirations—and the grandest storytelling—where, for four days and a Preview Night, tens of thousands of people can be themselves—fit in, rather than feel oddball—or be whom they would want to be by dressing up as beloved superheroes or villains and by adoring the storytellers and actors behind them.

The first, full three-day event took place from Aug. 1-3, 1970, at the U.S. Grand Hotel, with about 300 attendees and sci-fi luminaries, including Ray Bradbury and A.E. van Vogt. This week, 130,000 attendees will storm San Diego Convention Center to enter an alternate reality, where the social rules binding them everyday no longer apply. 

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Don’t Go There

While sitting with my 93 year-old father-in-law outside the Starbucks in San Diego’s Hillcrest district, I observed a directional sign for two shops, today. Then I read them as a sentence and laughed. Okay, you—think like an imaginative kid and not a stuck-up-the-butt literal adult: Ignore the K. It’s funny, yes?

Strangely, I came to live the sign not long later. As we walked into Trader Joe’s, a neighbor said hello on her way inside. I politely introduced my father-n-law, then she started on about the Neighborhood Watch group that she recently organized. The first meeting went well, but she wasn’t sure how to contact me. That’s when I blew her holy smoke up her arse.