Musings

Have I become numb to violence? I’m not sure. Maybe numb isn’t the right word. Normally, when we [the United States] have another mass shooting, I hop on board of the “let’s review of gun control laws” train. But not this time. There is something fundamentally wrong in our society. We, as a whole, do not know how to process feelings; how to deal with opposing views, etc. There is a blasé attitude that we have about violence and that’s frightening.

Where is all of this anger coming from? As a society, we have to decide what we value and see if the ideals we hold up are leading to this uptick in violence. Do we admire superficial and meaningless traits? It seems that we fall apart when we as individuals don’t reach this achieve this meaningless goals?

My thoughts are unfocused but I needed to jot down some random notions.

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Nerd Thoughts – Filmmakers that I used to love

It pains me to say this but the I am putting the Wachowski Siblings on the same shelf as M. Night Shyamalan and Tim Burton – I won’t waste my time and money on your projects again.  Let me back up a bit and explain this shelf.  I use this space for artist that I used to love but for whatever reason, I no longer connect with their work.  M. Night Shyamalan was the first on the shelf. When M. Night broke out with “The Sixth Sense”, I thought we – the film world – had an exciting new voice in the Suspense/Thriller genre.  I believe that Unbreakable was a little hick up and he would be back on track any minute. I enjoyed his next film Signs but began to notice a pattern – that his films needed a “shocking” twist. But these twists were shocking but very predictable.  After seeing the trailers for “The Village”, “Lady In the Water” and “The Happening” I believed that M. Night needed an intervention.  Maybe instead of directing his own work, he need to break out and work with other writers.  I am still waiting for that to happen.

My issue with Tim Burton is a little more complicated.  I really love Tim Burton.  He creates these fantastical worlds that are really like no others. My issue with Tim boils down to his frequent collaborations with Johnny Depp.  In the beginning, they created some of my favorite works from the ’90s “Edward Scisscorhands”, “Ed Wood”, “Sleepy Hollow.” By the early ’00s the magic was gone,  works like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland” appeared to show both artist coasting on past ideas.  [Side Note, I haven’t see any either movie and these observations are based on the trailers alone.] While previous films seemed whimsical and color, these newer films were garish and way over the top.  It appeared that the director and actor brought out the worst traits in each other.  A friend convinced me to see “Dark Shadows”, while the movie looked great, the plot was tedious and uninspired.  While, I have occasionally like Burton films [e.g. “Big Fish” and  “Corpse Bride”], other writers were driving force behind the story.

Back to the Wachowski Siblings, “The Matrix” changed the movie game! But since then, I’m going to be generous and say there that their career has been spotty.  I watched the obligatory Matrix sequels. The “Speed Racer” trailer gave me a migraine. Honestly, I found “Cloud Atlas” intriguing but it was faulty. The Wachowski Siblings are fantastic and building worlds and visual images but character and plot development is a major weakness. “Jupiter Ascending” was a mess.  I suspect that the movie was way too long and that the editing of the film made it incomprehensible.  The movie was beautiful but the “plot” was paper thin. So, now we get to the final straw “Sense8.” When this project was first announced, I was super excited because J. Michael Straczynski teamed up with the Siblings to build this world.  I’m four episodes in and I still have no idea what this show is about. I’m official done.  I would let the beautiful of your work fool me again.  I need four friends to vet your work before I ever see anything else by the Wachowskis.

Nerd Thoughts – Work Life Balance

Last fall, when I decided to go back to school and pursue my Masters in Justice Studies, I didn’t realize how much of my nerdy life would suffer.  I enrolled in a school on a whim.  I decided that I need a big change and graduate school would be it. I had plans for this blog and my movie blog — Geeks At the Movies. I was recruiting contributors and had plans to start a podcast and all of that came to a screeching halt when my first class started.  I have no regrets about going back to school; I am doing something that I have wanted to do for years. Social Justice has always been my calling and the events of the past two years ignited me to make a professional change. But, I miss my nerdy life and nerdy friends.  I haven’t been to a Con in well over a year. My desire to start reading comic books and graphic novels has been shelved along with all of my reading for pleasure. I know that it isn’t for ever but today I am grieving for the need to put by nerdy pursuits on the back burner.

Social Connections

Lately I think more and more about social connections and how easily they can become frayed. In this digital age it’s easy to build and rely on an online community but we miss out on a lot when we fail to invest in our in real life. The past few weeks have been a bumpy period in my life and “How Laptop Living Almost Left Me Homeless” by Heather Seggel really touch me. It’s an eye opening article and I definitely recommend reading it.

Last week I turned 45. I may soon become homeless.
I am not the stereotypical candidate for homelessness: I have a B.A. in English and a small business as a copywriter. And yet, my situation says something about where we live now in California–somewhere between a real roof and a virtual one. When your work doesn’t demand a physical address and you’ve lost social contacts and the web of connections they provide, it’s all too easy to find yourself hovering more or less nowhere.

Continued Here

In the news, there are constant reports of an increase in depression in every generation. How can we as a society prompted investing in real world relationships. It’s so easy to get caught up in normal routines of work and school and long commutes that is not surprising that people no longer have time to connect in person. I am against scheduling every minute of my life outside of work but would it be worthwhile to arrange a regular get together in order to continue to invest social building?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Legends – An Appreciation

One of the great benefits of living in Los Angeles, is the opportunity to see a lot of living legends at work. Recently, I have the honor and privilege of seeing two: Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson. I’m huge fan of The Supremes and when I heard that Ms. Diana Ross is currently touring, I jumped at the change to buy tickets. Ms. Ross put on an efficient concert hitting all of the high points of her career with The Supremes and her solo work. That may not sound like high press but back by a tight band and great singers, the iconic put on a very entertaining show.

Tony winner Cicely Tyson is starring in Trip to Bountiful with Blair Underwood, Vanessa Williams and Jurnee Smollett-Bell at the Ahmanson Theatre. Looking old and frail, Ms. Tyson commends the stage with her wisdom and humor. I’ve known of the story because of the film starting Geraldine Page and John Heard but I didn’t know the details of the plot. Because of events in my personal life, this play was especial poignant. The cast played off each other beautiful and there were many touch and beautiful season between Cicely Tyson and Jurnee Smollett-Bell.

I don’t always have the time nor money to indulge my love of theater and music, but when the opportunity arises to see an iconic performer, I make the sacrifice to.

Trip to Bountiful playing at the Ahmanson Theatre until November 2, 2014. Next appearance will be at the Emerson/Cutler Majestic Theatre Boston from November 20 – December 7, 2014.

Diana Ross on tour now.

Challenge! – Revivisted

In September 2011, I ran across the NPR Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books and I realized that I had only read 8 of the 100 books listed. As an avid reader and a sci fi fan, I was surprised by the low number. I challenged myself to read all of the books on the list. So three years later, how did I do? Not very well! I’ve read a lot during the last three years but most books were not from this list. Now, my total count is 15 books. 15 books in three years! Embarrassing. Some of my favorites from the list was The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin and the Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. Ursula Le Guin created such an original world that I was swept up into the story instantly. Is I personally own a lot of the books on the list, but as a book lover, I’m always buying books and I have stacks and stacks of books that I’ve never read. So, I am recommitting myself to reading all of the books on this list.*

Next up: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I started reading this book when it was first released but never finished it. I’m am confident that I can finish it by the end of the month! My goal is to write my review over Labor Day.

If you’re interested in joining me in the challenge, here is the link to the NPR list here

*Caveat – I refuse to read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Given that I find Card’s personal reviews abhorrent, I have no interest in reading anything by him. 84 books to go.

A Geek Aboard – Brussels

Brussels is a visual feast for geeks traveling. The city planners go out of their way to make art accessible to the everyday person. Statutes from Gaston to the Smurfs are scattered about town. There are two very unusual museums in Brussels that maybe of interest to geek travelers.

The first is the Belgian Comic Strip Center. Before my recent visit to this museum, I had no idea the importance of Belgium to the history of the comic strip. The museum goes back to the very beginning of when humans first use pictures in cave drawings to the modern use of digital images in creating today’s graphic novels. The museum uses an array of tools from story boards to videos to inform the reader on the creative progress.

Belgian Comic Strip Center
Rue des Sables 20, B-1000 Brussels

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http://www.comicscenter.net

At the other end of the spectrum is the Museum of Original Figurines

I stumbled on this museum while riding a hop on/hop off bus through the city. A museum dedicated to figurines, how very intriguing. Instead of preserving the history of a media, MOOF is interested in preserving the iconic images such a Tintin, Smurfs and Blake and Mortimer. You’ll also be able to see different artist takes on classic figurines drawn in different decades.

Brussels is worth a vacation stop because of its dedication to preserving a specific medium.

116 March Aux Herbes
Grasmarkt 1000 Brussels

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http://www.moofmuseum.be

A Geek Aboard…

I’ve been to the second circle of hell and it’s the roundabouts in the Normandy region. Driving from Paris to Bayeux, was my first experience driving in another country. On the highway, it was an nice relaxing drive with minimum traffic and a lot of toll stops – a lot of toll stops. We has to pay over 20€ for our hour plus drive. We arrived at our destination – Claude Monet’s house and Garden in without a care in the world.

All the trouble started when we set off for Bayeux. I punched in the address for hotel in Bayeux into the GPS and off we went. Driving in the country village was serene at first. I sped the through the small picturesque town like I was an extra in “Two for the Road.” And then I hit the first of several roundabouts. The first one was a three exit one and I handled it with no worries. But then, I came upon a five exit roundabout. By dad count off the exits while I listened to the GPS and tried to figure out where I was going. The first attempted I thought I took the fifth exit as instructed but then the GPS guide said one my now most feared words ever: recalculating. I had took a wrong turn and was being lead back to the roundabout. Okay. No problem we will try this again. We had returned to the same roundabout but the system referred to it as a six exit roundabout instead of a five. Interesting… My dad started counting off the exits and I got off and what I thought was the appropriate exit and in the background was that word again: recalculating. We were again lead back to the same roundabout. Clearly, I was having trouble but the system couldn’t or wouldn’t lead me to an alternate route. 15 minutes later, we were still at the same roundabout and I was starting to feel like Sisyphus and the reminder of my vacation would consist of me driving around the same roundabout. And then low and behold, we were out of the roundabout. To this day, I’m not sure how we managed to get out.

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Top 10 Women of Sci Fi – Part 8

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Delenn

(Babylon 5)

I have written about how it took me years to watch Babylon 5 because I naively thought that Star Trek was in the end all be all when it came to science fiction television. Babylon 5 had many fascinating characters including number 8 on my list: Delenn.

Delenn was the Minbari Ambassador on the Babylon 5 station. The Minbar were an interesting species who divided their society three separate castes: Warrior, Spiritual and Working classes. Delenn belong to the spiritual caste but she was so much more that a spiritual being. She starts out as a very mysterious but well-respected figure on the station. During the course of the series she undergoes a major transformation and not just a physical one. She becomes one of the most important people in the class and along with Captain Sheridan, G’Kar, etc helps transforms the known universe.

If you haven’t seen the series, do yourself a favor and check out the wonderful world created by J. Michael Straczynski.

WonderCon Day 1

I missed 99.9% of the programming. (-_-) I should have better luck tomorrow.

Having only attended two panels, the highlight of the day was the James Bonding podcast. Full disclosure, I’m not a James Bond fan having only seen two Bond movies, but I am a huge fan of Matt Mira having first seen him host the now defunct Star Dreck at NerdMelt. So, I was drawn to this panel on his “star power” alone.

It was an absolutely delightful event. For the living tape of the podcast, two controversial guest were brought back for the evening: Alie and Georgia. The audience was given a quick recap of the prior events. As non Bond fans, Matt suggested that the watch Goldfinger, which is considered a classic, as their introduction to the franchise. The original podcast can be found here. I guess the Internets were lit up with comments on Alie and Georgia’s view on sexism and racism in Goldfinger.

So after setting the stage Matt, Alie, Georgia and one other guy (whose name I didn’t write down) launched into a discussion of Matt’s favorite Bond Film – Casino Royale (the Daniel Craig one). What followed was a glorious conversation that included Daniel Craig looking like an angry penis and Alie guessing what the end of the movie entailed having only watched the first hour of it. It was just an overall entertaining panel.

Check out James Bonding podcast

For More on Alie and Georgia click here

The only other panel that I went to on Friday was Nobility.

The description of Nobility sounded promising:

“Nobility is a fun sci-fi web series dubbed “The Office meets Firefly.” In this story about humanity’s most powerful starship with a crew that’s anything but noble, follow the misfit crew of the Starship Nobility as they careen through the most dangerous events of the 28th century!” (WonderCon program schedule)

I stayed for half of the panel and learned that a lot of professional people are commitment to make a great sci fi series for the fans on a small budget. By 9:00 PM there were few actual details of the show and when it would be available so I bailed.

Keep an eye out for it if you can Nobility