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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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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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Comic-Con Heroes Enters the Public Domain

Timing is deliberate. As the big pop-culture convention starts here in San Diego, I release my ebook Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth into the public domain. You can grab the PDF here, or click on to Smashwords for more formats, including epub. I relinquish rights, believing the content remains evergreen valuable even if dated. The book published in September 2013.

During SDCC two years ago, I interviewed attendees, choosing one-dozen to profile. My contention about the convention: The fans are the stars, not hollywood, which gets the glory. The concept started from a recollection posted during Comic-Con 2010: “The Roles We Play“. Yesterday, I published a followup that I planned to title “The Roles They Play” but last-minute changed to “The Heroes Are Us“. 
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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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Survivor

Frak the critics. I really enjoyed Survivor, which released to theatres yesterday. Or not. The official reviews are dated May 28 or 29, 2015, but I can’t find the movie playing on the big screen anywhere locally. I streamed from Google Play, which has the film for rental or purchase, last evning.

I didn’t read reviews until after watching the flick and seeing something shocking: Rotten Tomatoes 0 percent. Yes, Yes, the action thriller is overly predictable. But sometimes you sit down to eat fine steak and wine, while other times glutton down s`mores and ice cream. Burp. Pass the Bud, Bud. Survivor is a junk food feast along the lines of Taken—which got two sequels
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Comic-Con Heroes: The Departure

They say the end is only the beginning. Today’s installment ends serialization of my ebook Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth. On July 8, 2015, after my current commitment with Amazon KDP Select ends, the tome’s release into the public domain begins—as promised. I plan to make copies available here, from Bunny Bows Press, and most likely Smashwords. I am still working out final logistics. Free also means removing the book from Amazon, which doesn’t permit the option. I am exploring a one-cent alternative.

A week ago, I posted the last of the dozen profiles, in order of appearance: The Dark Knight, The Fighter, The Collectors, The AcademicThe Nerd Culturist, The Writer,The Bicyclists, The Heroine, The Time Lord, The Volunteer, The Vendor, and The Millennial
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We’re Just Being Human, Mr. Spock

No fictional character influenced my youth more than Mr. Spock. I identified with the Vulcan’s cool, calculating ways, and adopted analytical attitudes that pushed back emotions. That’s still true as an adult. Surely I am not alone. You, too? That’s my reaction to news today about the passing of Leonard Limoy, at age 83.

In viewing “The Original Series” on Netflix, Star Trek looks a little hokey to me now. The series is heavily influenced by Sixties television era’s demands, which pounded the octagon-shaped TOS into a square action-drama-method hole. Consider the color of the uniforms and panels around the bridge, which surely fit in with NBC Peacock’s broadcasting “In Living Color”. Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the Stars” is entertainment-period formulaic, which looks so unsophisticated now. Nevertheless, the science fiction storytelling was groundbreaking for the time, and transcends many of the imposed constraints. 
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SDCC 2015 Open Registration Success!

In theory, I will go to San Diego Comic-Con this year—as a paying customer. For that I am most grateful and for the ease of the Open Registration process. From 2009 to 2014, I attended as registered press, but for some reason my status wasn’t re-certified. There was no formal rejection, just no approval during the typical “within 6 weeks” period after verification document submission.

SDCC’s streamlined process is a grabbag of chance. If you have an active ID on the system (before a cut-off date) and attended the previous year, you receive a code to participate in the registration process. That means using the number and last name to enter the waiting room between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PST. Anyone in the room when sales commence at 9 o`clock can be randomly chosen to purchase passe(s). Chrome refreshed me to the buying queue about 20 minutes after sales started. 
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Comic-Con Heroes: The Bicyclists

I am quite reflective about San Diego Comic-Con on this fine Saturday. An hour from now, thousands of people will begin the registration process that, from 9 a.m. PST, will let them into the online waiting room where they might be chosen to purchase tickets. I will be among them, for the first time since moving to San Diego in October 2007. My attendance was always guaranteed, for being a news reporter.

But SDCC has yet to re-certify my press status, and as time drags on the likelihood diminishes. Earlier this week, I received email indicating eligibility to participate in Open Registration, for which I am hugely appreciative. I worried about my uncertain status locking me out from purchasing tickets. Press get free admission, which is a benefit I can take or leave; paying is no problem. It is the assured admission that matters to me. 
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You Should ‘Begin Again’

Here in the United States, iTunes’ Movie of the Week is Begin Again. The 99-cent rental isn’t enough to pay for this delightful film, which I purchased over the holidays and watched with my wife. Grab it now.

There’s something appropriate about the movie being, if for no other reason than the title, Apple’s first cheap rental of the new year. The plot’s arc: music producer Dan Mulligan’s redemption from past mistakes. He must begin again, or be lost. With no money, and no record company, he convinces singer-songwriter Gretta James to make an album. Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley play the leads. 
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