Cosplay fun at Sakura Con – Part 3 (of 3)

photo by Orion Tippens Finally, the remainder of my pictures of my brief visit to the 2013 Sakura Con Northwest Anime Convention, in Seattle. These focus on the costumes and the fanpeople who wear them well.

For previous pics and commentary on this event, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

I really enjoyed this kind of visual atmosphere. I am a bit of a “geek,” so I feel a part of the fun and in showing my appreciation by sharing their awesomeness with the world around. Many of these costumes, I know very well from games I played, books I read, TV shows and movies I viewed. For those I do not, than I am open to learn more.

From here, I hope people who have not attended a gathering like this will understand the love cosplayers bring. These cosplayers are not paid, nor do most of them seek to promote their name or service. Their costumes are handmade. The more skill and thought put into the costume, the more cheer. It’s all in good fun. This collective mindset in enriching, adding to a special atmosphere by dressing up. When next you see a cosplayer, at least smile at that person for being so bold and wonderful in sharing.

Below are the last and best of the cosplayers, noticed at this Sakura Con. Enjoy and click on each for the full details. I recognized some and labeled them in descriptions. Others, I could use some help in the comments.

The awesome SF-88 Nike Missile Base (near San Francisco)

 - photo by Orion Tippens (travelingorion.wordpress.com)

Interested in Cold War era military history? In or near San Francisco’s Bay Area?

Check out the SF-88 Nike Missile Base, a U.S. military defense base established long ago against the possible invasion of Communist forces. Now, accessible to the public.

Find it, a little northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands. Visiting hours are very limited, and by guided tour only. More details at the end of this entry.

For me, this place was an awesome surprise. I heard nothing on this before and just found it while hiking around the perimeters of Fort Barry and its abandoned battery military posts (to be featured in a future post). I came across a fence, chuckled at this sign.

 - photo by Orion Tippens (travelingorion.wordpress.com)

I noticed a missile in the distance and an open gate beyond, then walked  towards. Turned out I was welcome, and in time for a grand tour of this fascinating place.

SF-88 is one of four public accessible decommissioned missile bases out of 280 that were purposed to defend against possible Soviet enemy aircraft attacks. After opening in 1954, SF-88 was armed first with Ajax anti-aircraft missiles, and later on with Hercules II anti-aircraft rockets. This establishment was eventually closed in 1974, and restored for historical preservation decades later by dedicated volunteers.

Thanks to these volunteers, visitors may personally see and understand this fascinating time of our history. With the aid of a volunteer tour guide, you may personally study a plethora of Cold War defense equipment and operations. Included on this base are radar stations, yesterdays top-of-the-line computer stations and communication networks. Also, lots of small military objects, pictures, and informative writings of its time in use.

And of course, the missiles themselves are present. Most here, are the Hercules II rockets. Some are taken apart in the sheds, others with detailed cutaways revealing complex construction and construction. Also, there is the center launchpad, where a platform leads to an underground area. Inside are more decommissioned missiles, and the launch room.

 - photo by Orion Tippens (travelingorion.wordpress.com)

Fascinating to me, was how lightweight these missiles were, as the tour guide gave us the opportunity to move a couple on their metal lifts. The missiles were to be prepared and ready promptly; recalling the guide saying these missiles had to be less than 20 minutes, should an attack happen.

SF-88 is much worth checking out. Hours and tours are limited, as the base is closed most of the week. The cost is free, and donations were refused at the time I visited. Do check its official Web site for current times of the tours.. SF-88 is also closed on federal holidays, and days of rough weather conditions (alerts are also online). For more information and directions, click here for the official visitor page.

Below are additional pictures of the Nike site, taken by me. Click on each one for the full picture.

Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack masterpiece

Poster-Once-Upon-a-Time-in-the-West_wallpaper

My personal favorite among movie soundtracks.

Once Upon a Time in the West..

Once Upon a Time in the West is Sergio Leone’s 1968 spaghetti western, cinematic masterpiece film; starring Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Claudia Cardinale. It’s a tale of epic badassery involving a harmonica playing man of mystery, a vengeful widow, an innocent thief, and a murderous villain. The overall production is beautiful, amazing; attributing to its detailed settings, inventive sequences, developed story and characterizations.

And, I love the soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone, now and forever among the greatest movie soundtrack creators of all cinematic history. He sets everything wonderful about this movie in its proper place, with lyrical tones and character specific themes. I love his use of varied simple handheld instruments, and use of natural hums and whistles.

Enjoy below, the very best of his music for Once Upon a Time in the West. Even if never seen, there is much to appreciate.

The main theme

Cheyenne’s theme.

Jill’s theme

The mystery man with the harmonica, and his final duel:

And, the Finale:

.

Earth Day, 2013

The Earth seen from Apollo 17

Hello earthlings, Happy Earth Day!

Why do we need a day to appreciate something we have everyday? Why not make everyday Earth Day?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. We forget. Many of us are busy, with other things to do and worry about. So, here we are today with this blog entry, as many other media outlets are also making it happen. Hopefully, you are making the best of Earth Day by at least acknowledging its existence. Then, we can go from there..

How about some history? We are in Earth Day’s 43rd year, since its founding in 1969. Early that year, Vietnam protests were still the rage, and a terrible oil spill happened in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat visited the disaster and promoted the idea for Earth Day. Rallies and follow-ups led to the first Earth Day in 1970, April 22nd. The day of choice was simply a good day decided by Nelson, not falling on any particular holiday and a time thought free from college spring breaks or exams.

A bit confusing was the founding of another Earth Day in the same year by peace activist, John McConnell; also proposed in the previous year. That day, founded on his own religious beliefs that mankind was the assigned caretaker of Earth, and had a duty to preserve it. McConnell proposed a global holiday to celebrate Earth’s life and prospects of world peace. That day fell on March 21, 1970; the first day of the Spring Equinox.

Throughout the years, both Earth Days coexist and celebrated in their own special ways. However, the Equinox Earth Day became recognized as more a day of peace and relief from disaster and war; while the other became more of a day of awareness and signal for environmental activism. Global promotions built this Earth Day into what it is now: raising issues on climate change, energy conversation and the preservation of natural environments and wildlife. This day, I think for its active efforts, became more known as the Earth Day.

So, what does one do on Earth Day? I believe, we should continue to heighten awareness and influence ourselves towards our planet’s preservation. Spread the message, by promoting and sharing awareness in our networks, in social online or in person through casual conversation. Perhaps, discuss some ideas and efforts that work, and other concepts and happenings that harm.

I personally believe we should continue to seek alternative, cleaner, renewable resources for energy and production. We should also keep in mind, as the growing problem of consumption as our world population grows, now estimated over the 7 billion mark. This reached twice over since the 1960’s. According to the United Nations and the U.S Census Bureau reports, we are expected to reach over 10 billion by 2050. Waste and the global altering effects of mass production will become a growing problem, if proper solutions are not found.

For motivation, let us also keep in mind what we are protecting; not just our lifeline, but the condition of our planet. Appreciate Earth’s natural settings, and observe various life cycles around you and afar.  Below is a great TED talk, sharing special observations of our planet’s beauty and wonder, though one man’s dedication and display.

Cosplay fun at Sakura Con – Part 2 (of 3)

photo by Orion Tippens

Here below, are the next set of pics from my brief visit to the 2013 Sakura Con Northwest Anime Convention, in Seattle. For the first set and opening commentary, click here.

This set is focused on the outside fun. The day was bright and wonderful, with cherry trees in bloom and the sky blue. This environment and wide open space was perfect for its for anime, gaming, alternative “geek” culture enthusiasts. Here are some observations on this gathering, based on similar musings over the many years at other alternative pop culture conventions.

  • Anime conventions bring a younger, more energetic crowd. Most come to entertain and be entertained. Being outside, often leads to random conversation and sharing of favorite things, especially if wearing a costume, apparel, or even holding a sign referring to similar interests. This can also leads to… 
  • Singing and dancing. Some bring their own instruments and voices. Conventions and sponsors sometimes liven it up with their own special paid performers. But overall, the attendees will gather around and cheer on entertainers (especially if it’s Japanese pop or Japanese rock.).
  • Impromptu games happen. Often these began after a large circle is formed. At this event, I observed some sort of bottle kicking game in the center of a circle here. Succession leads to massive hugging, and myself being a bit puzzled in this observation. Other things I have noticed in the past and a little here are sing-a-longs, dance-offs, and the occasional pretend fight.
  • Some shows are measured in popularity by their frequency in cosplay. Bleach, Naruto, Gurren Lagann still carry a strong presence. Nintendo and Disney, Capcom company characters also have a strong infiltration. Cosplayers centered around fan-favs often gravitate together, merging for amazing (sometimes surreal), group photo shots and posing.

Below is much of that fun. Click on each images for the full picture and additional text details.

Saturday..

photo by Orion Tippens

is back.

Thank god.

What a crazy week..

Bombs in Boston

Explosion in Texas

Earthquake in China

Another bombing in Baghdad

Many hurt, some dead.

Heroes everywhere,

We could use more heroes..

Otherwise,

enough troubling news,

I hope.

For this week.

It’s gloomy outside.

Don’t care.

Going to go out anyway,

because I need to.

You need to.

Find the good in this world.

Take a walk.

Smile at random people.

Enjoy nature.

Because that’s all,

the many of us have left..

to enjoy the week.

Libraries, for your travels

photo by Orion Tippens

Hello to all, and Happy National Library Week!

Libraries are useful and not limited to their typical establishments; the collected, organized, accessible amount of printed material and physical media. In modern times, libraries are also important as central hubs for the online access to digital information and services, through computer/printing stations and personal WiFi accessible devices. There is so far more a good library can offer to ANYONE.

Love a good public library, especially when traveling.

Libraries are perfect for travelers. They can help, save, and probably enhance an adventure. By that, I mean a descent into unfamiliar territory. This could be the next neighborhood over, or a different country. There are useful, often amazing libraries through every developed setting your feet can take.

I have walked through many libraries, mostly through the Pacific U.S states. I’m always excited to see one for each first time. I admire and study interesting histories behind older libraries, and innovative architecture on newer postmodern structures. Some, I will highlight and detail some in future postings.

For their content and services, libraries have been vital in contacting friends and business online, find better places to stay, sort out car repairs, chill out from tough weather, find temp work. Also, various libraries helped me follow some local mysteries in my travels and journalistic work including the Pink Lady spirit of Yorba Linda, the S.S. Point Reyes shipwreck, drug culture origins in San Francisco, the real town affected by the murder of Laura Palmer.

That being said, here are the best ways and suggestions to keep in mind, on libraries can help you better enhance your next adventure:

Online access: Many will have FREE Wi-fi access and use of computer stations with online connectivity. Commonly, they do not charge by the minute, or interested in profits or ads like most office supply stores. Most also offer printing services. Most libraries welcome incoming visitors no matter the distance, so ask for a visitors or guest pass. My best advice is to understand the extent of station usage times, closing of the entire branch (try not to hold them over to the very last minute and beyond of closing, library workers often hate that), printing costs (have some spare change handy), and sit near the reference/information desks if you may need quick assistance.

Enhanced tourism: Many libraries have amazing architecture with some rich in history and visuals (see additional links at the end). You may also find some local guides, maps, brochures, and leads to current events and happenings. Many large libraries have local history rooms or sections, to better get to know your area better. Look around. If the information desk workers are not occupied, nudge them on interesting facts about the place or area. The answers may surprise you, perhaps lead into your next local adventure.

Personal directory: Sometimes unfortunate stuff happens, and help is lacking in a strange land. You may need a nearby clinic, police department, or other public service. You might need a phone-book or local directory to fix your car, or tech gadget. You may need this info fast, as patience wanes for the inclusive googling. A well-trained librarian or assistant can give you the proper answers or better point in the right direction. All this, often fast. Also consider, available local travel books and guides for places, ideas to shop, eat, live. Every good library should be ready to help you better understand and utilize your surroundings.

A peaceful place: Sometimes the rain, wind, snow, heat outside can be unbearable. Why go back to your hotel or temporary place of residence? You have all night for that! Or perhaps, there are many more miles in driving. An open library welcomes all inside, with no need to buy coffee or snacks. Relax and sit down, maybe recharge that cellphone. But, don’t sleep or snooze. Library workers often frown on this, and may poke with you a stick. My advice to check out any local newspapers present, where the near news really give you a feel of the surrounding lifestyle or give ideas on what to do next.

Used bookstores: Many libraries have used mini-bookstores within, usually consisting of donations and weeded out check out materials. In addition to books, bookstores usually include music CD’s. DVD’s, magazines; also helpful in passing time for that next long trip. All usually dirt cheap, as these places are often small and needing more room for continuous incomings. My best advice, to simply ask for books on your specific interests. Often, the used book stores are managed by volunteers and happy to help. Often, I had treasure placed in my hands from behind the displays. Also, be on the lookout for large upcoming book sales, hopefully matching your schedule. Overall, proceeds from these special shops go back to their libraries and your purchases helped out.

The important thing to know, libraries are awesome and helpful on many levels. You take part by benefiting from their services, and their importance is fortified. As long as you and others support libraries, than no one is truly lost as long as a library nearby is open.

Here are some fantastic libraries from around the world to note.

The most beautiful..

The most unique..

The most historic..

My picture from above is from my visit to the Multnomah Central County Library in downtown Portland, Oregon. This library is worth a visit for Portland trekkers with, many rooms and walkways to explore. Also here, a creepy relief of famous children’s author, Beverly Cleary:

photo by Orion Tippens

National Library Week!!

I’m having a busy week so far. Also, it’s National Library Week!

I am crazy passionate about libraries, and I have much to say on them. I will post soon and furthermore on these wonderful places.  In the meantime, I did a few Instagrams through some old translucent Simpsons trading cards, at a local library. I now share here, to better show how some of us (represented by familiar cartoon icons) relate to our libraries.

And yes, I have an Instagram page! It’s mostly figurine themed at instagram.com/travelingorion!

Photo by Orion Tippens via Instagram Photo by Orion Tippens via Instagram Photo by Orion Tippens via Instagram

 

Message for Today

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Cosplay fun at Sakura Con – Part 1 (of 3)

Photo by Orion Tippens

Colorful, exuberant, awesome. This describes the atmosphere of cosplay, the culture of voluntary costume dressup, at its best. Such words are more in frequency for convention gatherings involving anime appreciation.

The following set is from my brief visit to the Sakura Con Northwest Anime Convention, in the great Seattle city. Here, is a gathering of wonderful folk who display their love for their favorite Japanese animation art styled programs, movies, manga, etc. By the best, I mean those who wear their custom-made costume and mingle with others who appreciate, smile, and participate in that displayed affection.

Keep in mind, anime conventions differ from comic and science fiction conventions. More people do dress up. Often, you will see offshoots of things that are not quite based on Japanese animation or styles. – Disney characters, Doctor Who, Marvel and DC characters, and a lot of video games. They are also welcome, as the spirit and pride of cosplay is all the same. Anime conventions also attract a more youthful demographic, so more activity and energetic interaction result.

For the Sakura Con, the weather outside was beautiful and sunny. Outside in the back area of the convention, there was an open courtyard adorned with blooming cherry trees. The atmosphere was playful, full of cheer and activity. Much of that will be highlighted in the next set, to be posted another future day.

For now, dig in. I took all the pics myself. I’m happy to share as long as I and this blog gets the credit. Click on each  to enlarge and get the full detail, and some identifications. Feel free to comment and add more information.

Saturdays..

are not all created equal.

Some are not as blue,

not as bright.

not as welcoming.

Yet,

there they are..

How does one enjoy a lesser Saturday?

Easy.

Just go out anyway,

and enjoy the day,

for what it is..

wonderful.

Because, you need to make it wonderful,

ending your week with a smile.

Just step out a little further.

Find a happy place,

away from home,

away from work,

if you can..

where the weather doesn’t matter.

because it’s that awesome.

That is how you enjoy the Saturday,

for what it is.

photo by Orion Tippens

Photo by me, at Seal Beach some time ago. It’s a wonderful place full of sand, space, and waves. You should go there if you live or traveling through the Los Angeles, Orange County regions.

The wonders of Cape Perpetua, coast of Oregon

photo by Orion Tippens

I want to go back.

To Cape Perpetua, south of Yachats, of the Oregon Coast.

I was there for about one hour. That was not enough two summers ago, last since exploring its beautiful scenery. I could love so much, during my break from a southbound day drive to Eureka in Northern California, from Tillamook, Oregon.

The distant scenery is beautiful, especially up high through various lookout points. This is the very best of the Oregon Coast, of which I have seen so far. I plan to eventually witness the giant sea lion caves and Cannon Beach in time. The Oregon coast is amazing. But, I think Cape Perpetua represents the accessible U.S.Pacific Coast at its raw, most powerful, and a bit dangerous.

Come closer, go down a few trails. Do some exploring, and watch your step over the shore rocks. There are many slippery areas, tide pools, deep holes. Some rocky areas extend far out, and more visible during low tides.The high tides can be violent, crashing, surprising, warning you to stay back. If here, study your maps, know the tides, and be careful. With patience, you will find some amazing and unique wonders.

Including:

Devil’s Churn

Cape Perpetua Devil's Churn

Here, a large deep crack accessible via a short, curvy forest trail. You can walk the edge if careful, watching every step, and walk slowly. If you find your way down, it’s best to find a good spot in the back area, and gaze at the incoming ocean motion. Watch the water fill and retract in constant repetition. During the high tide, the waves can be intense in their crashing. The video below better captures that excitement.

Thor’s Well

Memorizing, boggling is this nature-made well. The timing of the tides must be perfect, otherwise, it’s too dangerous or too calm to witness its full effect. Away from the shore among the scatters of rocks, you will find this strange hole in the ground. The water seeps in, fills up, spits out, and then sucks back in the nothing. Sadly, my timing was off and missed out. There are pictures online, mostly a bit unreal; the stuff of strange fantasy. Watch this found video clip:

Cook’s Chasm

PerpetuaBridge

Similar to Devil’s Chasm, and below a bridge. I missed this place but learned of something that makes this very worthwhile; a spouting horn to the side. What is a spouting horn? I can’t find much on the physics of a spouting horn. I assume it’s some pressure within the rocks, push forth by the crashing waves. Here is another video found:

There are many tide pools, sand dunes, and nature trails. There is a stunning vista point overlooking Yachats, an old stone observation building lookout shelter, and a lighthouse; all of which I missed. The inland area is also interesting, full of dense forest and lakes. There is definitively more to see and discover on your own.

I will be back.

For more information on Cape Perpetua and the surrounding area, click here.

Just a picture..

Photo by Orion Tippens

That’s all for today outside my hectic schedule, which I think says enough.

The world is busy outside, as many of its inhabitants are hard at work. Some people out there need to sell some flowers. The passerby may at least appreciate their bouquet arrangements for the colorful display, maybe snap and share a picture. Then, move on.

Inside the Palace of Versailles…

Nice.

Using Google Maps and the magic of Street View mode, anyone could take a virtual through the entire Palace of Versailles in France. All in stunning detail, 360 degree spinning in any direction, with easy point and click exploration mobility. See below..

This is very cool for the Google and Versailles officials working together to make this happen. Of course, this could never come close to personally being there. However, there are many in this world who will may never have the chance, money, time to ever witness this marvel in person. At least with this, one could appreciate the beauty of the total sum of its architecture, art, history from any computer.

There are probably others. I will have to look into this another time, to explore and discover. If anyone knows or could find a list (not finding much on this at the moment), please comment below.

Yoda’s wisdom

photo by Orion Tippens

Happy Monday. For many reading this, this is the beginning another long work week.

For some, this means heavy goal setting and impressing ourselves. For others, relentless work including: letters, proposals, brainstorming, massive paperwork, countless  emails, calculations, heavy lifting, exceptional customer service. Those in need of work are likely on the job hunt: revising resumes, pressing outfits, other self-sellings. College students are back from spring break, probably stacking notes and outlines toward their semester finals. Also for many US citizens, that tax deadline is faster approaching.

In times of stress, we could use a motivational iconic figure. Someone, whose wisdom comes from a galaxy far away. He could say something wise and wonderful, out us on track, ready those cover letters, develop solid thesis statements, place those exact numbers on charts, straighten our ties, make smiles effortless.

Seek Yoda, the wise and powerful Jedi from the Star Wars franchise.

Yoda says wonderful things about life:

“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

On faith and leaving room in mind for the impossible:

“(Luke: I don’t..don’t believe it) Yoda: That is why you fail.”

On stress management:

“Control, control, you must learn control!”

On grim outlooks:

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future”

On goal setting:

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”

On negative behavior:

“Don’t give in to hate. That leads to the Dark Side.”

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

On education progression and necessity:

“Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.”
“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”

On motivation:

“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

So there you go, all from a wise wizard elf-man, as quoted from a few Star Wars films (mostly Empire Strikes Back). Think, for the next forboding moment. What would Yoda do, say? How would he handle a troubling situation or stress buildup? His calm demeanor and self confidence produced heroes, helped win wars, organize large groups, and kept him looking good for over 900 years.

Couldn’t hurt.

The picture above, is a life-sized Yoda statue on a water fountain (photo by me). You’ll can find the entrance to the Lucasfilm Ltd. corporate headquarters office in San Francisco, within the Presidio area, very near to the famous Palace of Fine Arts. For the exact location, click here.

Falling in Spring, somewhere in Seattle..

Wow, Kobe Terrace Park.

Seek this beautiful yet small park in Seattle, especially in the Spring. Find Kobe Terrace Park, northeast of the International District. Go east, uphill on Washington street and past 6th, before the freeway. This small public paradise awaits you, covered with cherry blossom trees and small shrubbery.

All this on a hill, perfect for a nice stroll. Also, some well-placed benches, perfect for reading. You may notice a pleasant, distant overview of Seattle’s somewhat droll southeast region. But cares may not happen, as the enveloping surrounding nature and peacefulness will be all the matters for the restful mind.

I was here twice last week, with business nearby. First on Sunday, during the bright sunny weather. And then again on Friday, after some rain and heavy winds. The place was beautiful, but on two different frequencies. In between, a transformation happened.

I took pics on both visits. Below are some raw, unedited pics from my outdated cellphone.The first set is from my afternoon visit on Sunday evening, March 31, 2013. The weather was warm, sunny. The blossoms are near full, amazing:

cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens
photo by Orion Tippens

The next set is from my visit after some rain and wind, the following Friday. The weather is now cold, wind and cloudy above. What was in the sky, is on the ground. Imagine, with each gust of new wind, blossoms fluttering to the ground. I imagine much of Japan like this, but on a grand scale. Someday, I hope to set foot in that far land of the Rising Sun. But for now, Seattle will do:

cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens cellphone photo by Orion Tippens

That’s all for now.

Saturday

photo by Orion Tippens

I read something not long ago..

on some online message board,

probably Reddit,

a proposal for a day without electronics..

to be free from the Internet, digital technology, multimedia interfaces, etc.

for just one day.

Yes…

like Earth Day.

except we keep our lights on, but our screens off

for the whole day.

What a wonderful idea, I thought.

Let’s do that.

Resist,

(unless work or emergency)

the addictions,

to fake worlds, social networking, information overload, excessive clicking,

Let’s make that day,

once every week.

How about today?

Saturday!

It’s perfect.

Go outside.

Talk to people

in person

Browse some thrift stores

Go to that park.

Throw a rock in a lake.

Be active.

You can go back to your computers tomorrow,

on Sunday,

the better day to waste.

Roger Ebert, thank you.

Roger Ebert (extract) by Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert, the greatest movie critic of our times, passed away yesterday, April 4, 2013. He died of cancer at 70, just days after announcing his retirement from the movie review business. I have much to say on his legacy, so here goes..

What made Roger Ebert so great? Was that being his long time dedication since 1967, to reviewing movies? Or perhaps his fuzzy personality and witty descript? Or perhaps his open-mindedness to see nearly every big-screen movie no matter how mundane, stupid, or childish? Or perhaps his willingness to speak his own mind without fear on subjects including: video games (not art?), and politics (progressive liberal), or the act of creative writing..

“There is no such thing as waiting for inspiration……the Muse visits during the process of creation, not before.”

Overall, I think Ebert’s success is due from his ability to make each review personal. He does not consider what the current mob is saying or by identifying with the current Emmy snobbery . You read his reviews, and he makes his points by also reminding us of who he is. Sometimes, that could be a grumpy old man not quite connecting with a film’s target audience. My favorite example, being his review of Kick-Ass (2010):

“Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let’s say you’re a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in.”

Ebert goes on in detail about why Kick-Ass reminded him of real life violence involving inner-city kids and its gratuitous shameless display of bloodletting (he is also not big on horror). I strongly disagree with his review on Kick-Ass, being that it’s just escapist fantasy and fun. However, I appreciated his understanding and willingness in the attempt to make a connection while sharing his personal thoughts on why the movie was bothering, affecting his review.

Then, there are reviews done that connected well with myself on the understanding of my own desires in new movies. Often, that calls for something different, creative and interesting. Also, we both seem to love intelligently written science fiction.

My recent memory and strong example is Ebert’s recent review on Cloud Atlas. This is a wonderful film, but not understood by many because of its odd and exhilarating editing style, switching often between six linked stories. Ebert said this in his review of Cloud Atlas (2012):

Even as I was watching “Cloud Atlas” the first time, I knew I would need to see it again. Now that I’ve seen it the second time, I know I’d like to see it a third time — but I no longer believe repeated viewings will solve anything. To borrow Churchill’s description of Russia, “it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” It fascinates in the moment. It’s getting from one moment to the next that is tricky.”

He goes on to discuss its bold style, and how the film itself goes beyond the story to a work of art. His review felt like a journey, that needed repeating because there was so much for him to appreciate and understand. I rushed out to see Cloud Atlas for myself and fully understood what he said. I felt a kind of connection between our love for this movie. Also, I couldn’t push others to see this movie, and the Internet mobs were much divided in their opinions. I think Cloud Atlas was a movie for just myself, Roger Ebert, and others who keep an open mind and welcome daring, creative approaches in storytelling. We can still hate the result, but at least understand and welcome the good in putting the product out there.

I always appreciated his choice in a personal favorite of mine, Dark City, to be his chosen best movie for 1998, and Being John Malkovich the year after. Both are great movies, also daring approaches in creative storytelling. Yet both movies, I felt were widely ignored and dubbed too weird by the masses to give them the wider respect they deserved.

That being said, I looked up Ebert’s thoughts on another daring movie for its time. This odd movie, peddled as a space opera with laser-wielding wizards, handicapped designed robots, with a reluctant farmboy turned galactic hero. Here is what he said in his review of Star Wars, back in 1977:

“The movie relies on the strength of pure narrative, in the most basic storytelling form known to man, the Journey. All of the best tales we remember from our childhoods had to do with heroes setting out to travel down roads filled with danger, and hoping to find treasure or heroism at the journey’s end..”

See? Star Wars is not just about special effects and crazy battles in the usual epic struggle between good and evil. There is so much more, setting the first apart and special from the following sequels and prequels. It takes an open-mind soul to look deeper into a popular film for what it really is. Ebert does that well.

And often, Ebert likes to have fun in his reviews. He reminds us, that some movies are created to primarily entertain. If he is entertained, we are..or at least, could be entertained. For example, his review of Speed, starring Keanu Reeves (1994).

“Films like Speed belong to the genre I call Bruised Forearm Movies, because you’re always grabbing the arm of the person sitting next to you. Done wrong, they seem like tired replays of old chase cliches. Done well, they’re fun. Done as well as Speed, they generate a kind of manic exhilaration.”

Also, Roger Ebert displays wit even when the subject film does not. This is often refreshing; especially in this modern age of ridiculous explosion-laden, cleavage display, CGI fetishes disasterpieces  Here’s what Ebert had to say in his hilarious review of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009):

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

And, here is my favorite burn for Tom Green’s epic monstrosity, Freddy Got Fingered, a movie Ebert hated so much he gave it zero stars in his review (2001):

“This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”

Rest in peace, Roger Ebert. That personal touch in your reviews will be remembered.

Also, thank you.

Deep thinking…

What did I come this way for?

You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

I think I came this way to write and share my mind with the world. It’s what I do, and enjoy most in life. What about you?

As for the picture above, I love the Peanuts comic strips and related anything brought to life by Charles Schulz. Especially, Charlie Brown. Everything about Charlie Brown is wonderful, easy to relate.  He is an emphatic symbol for all who strive, and keep going no matter the result. Throughout and afterwards of his own actions – we find questions, explorations, reflections not just in our favorite blockhead, but in ourselves. Charlie Brown’s conclusions are often humorous, and understanding. We learn from him, to best enjoy and perhaps appreciate our little failures in life, at least for a chuckle. Then, we find other reasons to smile, often the less complicated life things work best, like peanut butter sandwiches and funny dogs.

Concerning the above picture: I love the transitional flipping of black and white. This adds much more to the message and conclusive question. As a result, I feel Charlie Brown may have pondered this for a while. The differences in time between panels could have been minutes or days, perhaps years; I think it’s all the same. As to what leads him to this rumination process, we could only imagine. Losing another baseball game? Another awkward encounter with the Little-Red Haired Girl? Another 5-cent psychiatric evaluation with Lucy Van Pelt? Or perhaps, nothing at all..

I know not the original source of the above picture. The pic was on my hard drive for a long time and forgotten until now. I felt it needed sharing. If anyone knows more info: including the original printed platform, publication date, additional context; please share.

The art of Clarion Alley – San Francisco, Mission District

photo by Orion Tippens

Yay, picture share time!

I present below, this cluster of pics from a personal favorite spot in San Francisco’s Mission District. This location is full of color, creativity, messages, diversity, brilliance, amazement. Here, appreciate fine urban and graffiti art; all open to the public on the walls of doors, fences, buildings. All, mostly done by local artists.

This is Clarion Alley. It’s all free, just find the alley and take a stroll (during the day is brighter, safer).

The work of Clarion Alley is done by various artists with full permission by the city and the adjacent property owners. This collaboration is part to the work of CAMP (Clarion Alley Mural Project). Here, is a little more from the the CAMP representative Web page, www.meganwilson.com:

“Clarion Alley Mural Project has been a grass roots project from beginning to future, organized by a handful of individuals who have volunteered thousands of hours, and with the added generosity of many, many community members who’ve committed their time and energy to CAMP over the past 20 years. Its possible that such a project could only be done by a small group of committed friends. Big institutions with paid staffs, enviable office facilities, and large materials budgets also have institutional strictures, competing curatorial agendas, levels of prestige to be maintained, ponderous decision-making processes, star power and quota considerations in the selection of artists and bottom line revenue projections to be taken into account. Could a project based on the affinities of artists, characterized by a rejection of western fine art hierarchies, with no enhancement of the market value of stored artworks, ever make its way through that gamut?

In a city that is rapidly changing to cater to the one-percent at every level, CAMP is one of the last remaining truly punk venues in San Francisco.”

I visit San Francisco often, at least twice a year over the last ten years. I come back to Clarion Alley when time allows. Some of the art stays unchanged (perhaps touched up or repaired), while other art is fresh and new painted over the old. This presentation is very refreshing, and retains hope for the ongoing troubles of San Francisco’s local art community (rising rents, gentrification, the tech industry invasion).

Below, is my collection of images over the past few years visiting Clarion Alley. Pics are from various cameras, smartphones on hand. Enjoy, appreciate, make this place a must-see for your time in San Francisco.

For more on Clarion Alley, CAMP, and the artists involved with more pictures past and present – click here, and here, and here.

Write Hard

LEO 1922b

Writing is fun, but not always easy.

For the following, I share and elaborate.

I love to write, and engage often through this blog. I write for other online sites, usually through freelance and volunteer work. Then, the various social networks and message boards, of which I share my two cents on many subjects. There are also emails, chats, texts, etc. Overall, I strive for professionalism in my communications. Grammar and form are especially important.

I make mistakes. Most of the time, easily and quickly spotted. The rest, I feel shamed when discovered late. The worst of my guilty writing sins include the repeated overuse of unnecessary words, run-on sentences, subject/verb disagreements, the occasional apostrophe slip. Sometimes the typing and thinking are not in sync, words are skipped.

I edit myself a lot. Editing others is easier, I think. I find the more creative I write, the more edits needed. However, I fear for the missed errors and awkwardness. I develop new healthy habits, while maintaining my style. Lately, I strive to eliminate unnecessary wordage. I also work to shorten sentences and reduce paragraphs to their individual purposes. occasionally stop and write a standalone sentence, for special effect.

I especially enjoy doing that.

Don’t let personal writing pitfalls discourage from writing. Keep writing, no matter what. Have fun with your writing, and be creative when necessary. If you screw up, chuckle in your corrections. Maybe, dedicate and share a blog post on your developments. More importantly, learn and develop new positive writing habits. I do this constantly and enjoy this vital growth.

Also, learn from others. There are plenty of resources out there. My suggestions include style guides, reference books, writing exercises, peer advice. Consult your local librarian for good further direction.

Also, never rely on built-in software spell checks.

I conclude with a recently discovered blog from the New York Times online, written by their associate managing editor, Philip B. Corbett. It’s “After Deadline”, and examines errors in usage and style found in NYT newsrooms. There, is good advice on recognizing various abuses of grammar, spelling, style. For that goodness, click here.

PS, I welcome further advice and criticism. Bring it on.

National Truthteller’s Day!

truth is out there

Today is National Truthteller’s Day!

This is a day founded on pure trust. This is a day we open our hearts and tell people the truth, especially about hard to believe things suddenly discovered. Many businesses and media outlets will do the same. Fascinating new products and scientific discoveries will be revealed, often things we have a hard time accepting. Excitement!

So, today is a good day to share. In return, we believe all statements with absolutely no question, and sort them out tomorrow. Honesty is super important on National Truthteller’s Day.

Yet, some of these statements might be false. This is also tradition and a test of our faith in the truth.. It’s important today, to believe these special statements. Because these lies are cleverly disguised facts. To deny a fact, is to close your mind. Believe all lies.

Do this for today. Spread this message to strengthen its full effect.

National Truthteller’s Day.

April 1, 2013.

For more on National Truthteller’s Day, click here.