Tag: Society

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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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Night at the Park

Sometimes San Diego delights most unexpectedly. Yesterday, I entered an alternate universe—a lovely neighborhood that could have been from a 1980s Steven Spielberg movie. Kids played everywhere. Freely. The clang of metal baseball bats rang out from the park, where parents cheered and encouraged their middle-school players. Pretty homes, none too different from another, lined clean streets, from which the sound of playing children created intoxicating atmosphere.

My journey started with a request: Provide transportation to the Rebelution and Sublime concert at the Sleep Train Amphitheater. My soon-to-be 21 year-old daughter asks for rides so infrequently now, I couldn’t refuse. But given heavy traffic around the venue, 27-km distance drive, and her plan to return in two hours or so, I figured to stay in Chula Vista rather than roundtrip. But where to hang out—from the commercial-property isolated locale? 

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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. 

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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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Comic-Con Heroes: The Academic

My fourth installment of excerpts from ebook Comic-Con Heroes: The Fans Who Make the Greatest Show on Earth takes an interesting directional shift. So far we’ve met The Dark Knight, Medieval fighter, and twin-brother toy collectors. Would you believe there are people who study toys as a profession? Read on to see.

To recap: I attended San Diego Comic-Con 2013 with intention of profiling one-dozen among the 130,000 attendees. As SDCC 2015 approaches, I am posting 13 installments, after which the book will release into the public domain, on July 8, 2015, when my current commitment for Amazon KDP Select ends.

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Flickr a Day 5: ‘Style Over Speed’

At age 25, I begrudgingly got my driver’s license. How un-American, right? Or strange given I grew up in Northern Maine, where snow covers the ground seven months of the year. But anywhere I couldn’t walk, I biked. So it is with delight that today’s Flickr pic represents a bicycle enthusiast, and he has so many great photos posted (more than 26,000) choosing one is challenging. Self-titled “Style Over Speed” is by no means his best, not by any measure, but it’s such a poser I couldn’t resist.

Film director Mikael Colville-Andersen, who joined Flickr in August 2006, lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. His street photography is art. He writes: “Zakkatography is a state of mind. It’s a taste in your mouth, a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s groovy interior design shots, stunning architectural studies and it’s especially raw streetaciousness. Urban fragments with urban creatures. Zakkatography is your friend. Embrace it”. I will, and so should you! 

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Vinyl is Vogue

Four days before Christmas, my 20 year-old daughter texted: “Out of the `60s, `70s, and `80s, which was your favorite?” That question, her reason for asking (“been listening to lots of Beatles”), and presents’ preference (“just like vintage things, haha—and music”) led me to make a last-minute purchase: Crosley turntable, from Urban Outfitters for 20 percent off. I also grabbed The Beatles “White Album”, which will be returned December 26 for full refund.

Vinyl is vogue right now. Nielsen SoundScan’s midyear report put vinyl record sales at 4 million units, a 40-percent increase over the same time period in 2013. The pace remains fairly constant, with sales approaching 8 million for all 2014—259,000 units over Black Friday weekend, a 50-percent year-over-year increase. In a time when online music purchases are easy and selective, vinyl’s tactile experience of holding the disc and setting the needle to it feels authentic; more intimate.  In the not-so-distant future, some people will feel the same about caressing the printed page, when ebooks have displaced boundbacks like CDs did vinyl. 

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Syfy ‘Ascension’ Review

Not since (what was then) SciFi Channel televised the Battlestar Galactica miniseries in 2003 has science fiction storytelling been so good as Ascension, which aired last week. BSG changed the tone and tenure of speculative drama, that felt altogether more real in the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Later watchers won’t feel the same about the miniseries or full seasons that followed. They’re beret of the shared context that amplified the emotional content.

Ascension’s showrunners smartly seek something similar, but playing reminiscent emotions rather than anger or fear. For aging Baby Boomers, and even their descendants, Ascension is a time tunnel to the early 1960s, perfectly preserved 51 years later. Pop! Let’s look inside the time capsule! i09 calls Ascension “Mad Men in Space”, and there’s something to that allusion. But unlike later Mad Men seasons, which carried the characters forward into the decade’s crises and conflicts, Ascension harkens a golden era of innocence before Civil Rights, Vietnam, war protests, hippies, political assassinations, or even the Beatles.