Leaving Summer 2020, in wholesome hindsight…

Summer 2020 was a little weird but full of beautiful moments.

I was a bit worried on its end after a week of nasty fires in the Pacific Northwest, bringing darkened skies of smoke and ash throughout. That’s so very 2020, pushing me back into home isolation.

But yet, I felt great times during the season under the troubling, continual circumstances of the year. Such are the pandemic and continual dread for the future of my world, with social unrest and shared economic stress. What does one do, for feeling the necessity of the news, yet not ignore the constant frustration and trouble that the headlines bring?

One great answer is to reach out, accept the reaching out of peers to make the best of what’s out there. The weather was great most of this season, at least for the Pacific Northwest (sorry friends in California who endured over 100 F). I feel blessed with good friends that shared my hunger for adventure, and that we did.

We shared many weekends all over midwestern Washington in Tacoma, Bellingham, Anacortes, Issaquah, and the Seattle area. We hiked, we ruminated, we explored, we eat, we enjoyed nature and the somewhat the surroundings while being pandemic-minded and safe.

I had a great time throughout but also unplugged much from the social media and pleasures of modern digital technology. But, I am also terribly sorry for not sharing such beautiful experiences in a timely fashion. Much of it was also for me talking, helping, discussing life, and current happenings with friends in between. Personal time was my priority.

But, I will share on memories recent and fresh when I can, especially as the new Fall season sets in. I have the feeling it’s going to be a longer, colder, darker time ahead. With that, more time to share but in a different way.

– Orion T

The above pic is facing Mount Rainier, from the top of Mount Burroughs, taken from one of the many trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center deep within and high above. It’s closed to the majestic peak, the best view I think one can get by hiking after a lengthy two-hour drive deep within the Mount Rainier National Park. The entirety spent with friends, very worthwhile.

The 2020 National Protest, Part 1 – Hot time for justice and reform, long overdue

Over two weeks, the latest protest for civil injustice reaches national (and heading global) proportions, yet also grown for decades in the making. We look outside, turn on the news, take part in the conversation because the air is a bit tenser. That time for civilization to stand by and do nothing is up.

On the surface, this latest civil unrest ignited by a horrific image from Minneapolis, a White police officer using his knee to crush the neck of a Black man for eight minutes and 46 seconds, depriving him of his right to live. On the ground pleading to breathe, George Floyd was a father, a mentor, a working every-man who also made terrible decisions. He then turned his life around, with new dreams while recently losing his job to the ongoing pandemic. Such details and more, are additives to the humane treatment that George Floyd and anyone else deserves.

Yet George Floyd had no chance, but every right to live as other officers stood by and did nothing. And,, so did much of the current police system passing this off as a mere incident, reducing the public call to action. The Minneapolis Police Department attempted to change the narrative, while more details and outside camera footage showed an apparent contradiction. Each disciplinary action felt like minimal for what appeared to be an execution, as more information mounted. This overall system felt cold to the growing public outcry.

Yet, new heat developed among the citizens of Minneapolis, spread through news and social media to every corner of the U.S nation. A spark to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and too many similar incidents of police brutality and injustice through the previous decade. The systemic racism that leads to far too many events where people of color are unfairly targeted and mistreated for minor or made-up offenses. Then, made to suffer from a lack of due process where a law enforcement officer may use some lousy excuse to become judge, jury, and executioner.

Now, the movement fires up, filled combinations of pent-up fury and frustration with hope and hopelessness for the future. Many give up on not just the police as a force that is supposed to “serve and protect,” but a growing world that leaves the needs of the poor, the minorities, the less privileged…cold.

I use temperature as a metaphorical measure because nothing is instantly hot or cold. There are conditions that lead to growing extremes. History is full of moments that have raised the temperature of the growing frustration of a system that seems to give little effort to change.

Many historians would agree, the earliest racially pushed policing stemmed from the pre-civil war era. Slavery patrols were common in White, European descent dominant small towns and rural areas, organized to keep a lookout and control of Black slaves. Eventually, slavery was abolished, but the mentality of racial control remained through harassment, terrorism continued through the growing sectors of law enforcement.

Racial segregation laws, also known as Jim Crow laws (the term derived from a popular racist caricature in the late 1920s of Blacks), were eventually considered legal in South area regions, pushed a very unequal imbalance for Blacks to be kept social and economically disadvantaged and many dominant White areas. Being that African Americans were on the losing end of the Jim Crow era and treated inhumanly, White police officers identifying (and often working with) White supremacist groups including the KKK), would be widespread as typical enforcers. Eventually, those laws were ended, as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed. Yet still, it took a heavy law enforcement in many areas to keep those laws moving.

Such attitudes through many law enforcement areas, did not change overnight. The resentment from many African Americans who experienced the social damage of Jim Crow laws grew, especially among those who migrated westward to the Pacific States, remained.

On August 11, 1965, in the Watts district of Los Angeles, a police officer pulled over Marquette Frye, a young African-American with a troubled past resulting in bad personal decisions, for drunk driving. He would walk in a drunken state to return with his mother to claim help claim the vehicle being towed. Eyewitnesses (a slowly growing crowd of locals) say she handled the situation well, while rightfully scolding her son for drunk-driving. Frye became agitated according to a police report, where he angrily defied threats of jail and car towed away. Patrol officers present tried to handcuff Marquette Frye, leading to a worried mother defending the life of her son in police custody, jumped to the officer, leading to violent escalation. The officer struck his baton to the head of Marquette Frye, bleeding as they both were under arrest,

The present local crowd grew frustrated and angry, also responding to some spreading incorrect rumors (for now, but there was only an official report to go by at this point). But even so, the racial tensions combined with economic inequality and housing discrimination added to the reputation of the Los Angeles police force, notorious among them for its recruitment of white individuals from the South U.S regions, an area well known for its systematic and very open racist community standards. Protests grew, and so did the anger.

The 1965 Watts Riots followed, leaving many buildings burned and places looted. While the police arrived to slow down the civil unrest, many were quick to use violent methods of crowd control. It didn’t help that Police Chief William Parker described the rioters as “monkeys in the zoo.” 34 people ended up dead and 1,032 injured. Of those who died, 23 killed by LAPD officers.

More frustration grew and spread from police reaction, mixing the protests and riots together.

Another early yet major and more substantial incident of police brutality was on the evening of July 12, 1967, in Newark, New Jersey, where two white police officers pulled over black cab driver, John William Smith, for an apparent traffic stop. They arrested and severely beat Smith claiming resistance and “insulting remarks.” Smith remained in his holding cell of the local precinct until further injuries lead to hospital placement.

The incident sparked protest from an area where African Americans were economically disadvantaged, adding anger to frustration resulting in a wide range of reactions. Rising tensions resulted in a quickly organized peaceful protest on that police station. But hell broke loose, as a riot instigated by a few angry citizens, leading to more police brutality, unnecessary and vicious. 26 people died, and countless injured, including Joe Bass Jr, a 12-year boy injured from a police gunshot. A photo of his bloodied body appeared on the cover of the July 1967 issue Life Magazine. It’s haunting, violently graphic, and you can click here if curious (warning, very graphic)

It’s what we see with out own eyes that makes the biggest difference. With the advent of media technology, so shall come the mounting resentment as pictures and video captured of unnecessary police brutality built upon legitimacy of the problem.

So why the rioting when there involves incidents of police brutality? I think Dr. Martin Luther King had the best response in a 1967 interview with CBS’ Mike Wallace in which he responded to a question regarding on minority charged vandalism and looting. “And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro,” King said. “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard. And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

Adding oppressing police who abuse their power, maddens the situation for the disadvantaged. Sure, a riot is not justification. It is merely a result for many involved who I think, have given up on a system that works for them.

And so forth, there continued other incidents of police brutality, but none quite so apparent until the night of March 3rd, 1991 in Los Angeles from the balcony of local citizen George Holliday. He recorded by video cam, construction worker and also African American Rodney King, beaten horribly by a group LAPD officers who pulled initially pulled him over for drunk driving after a short chase.

And, that’s where I leave pause for a moment, looking back to a more personal experience. I was in Los Angeles at the time, with much to share the civil unrest and riots that followed. There is more to bring up from personal experience, because my part among so many others are just a contribution to the connected buildup of today.

Which is now, a very hot time.

Orion T

The top picture I took from the recent protest in Seattle, currently more focused now in the Capitol Hill district. More on that with more pictures, coming up.

Silence standing, waiting

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

I was enjoying the silence before me over the weekend, taking time alone at the Seattle waterfront, sitting at an open public table freshly sprayed with my lavender sanitizer spritzer. I take off my face mask, eat some delicious barbecue lunch from the Pike Place Market (Pike’s Pit, highly recommended now). My phone battery is nearly out. but that’s okay. It’s a noisy, troublesome device that needs a nap. I devour much of my delicious mix of soaked sweet chicken, rice, mac and cheese and cole slaw. Then, I listen to the silence of the air around me.

It’s very nice and welcome.

The temperature is kind, between cold and warm, with a slight breeze that brushes against my skin enough to keep me awake. I look to the Big Wheel of Pier 57, it’s unmoved, unlit, waiting, and I add a contemplative thought…perhaps this stillness as a moment for all things to think, uninterrupted. The clouds are lively, yet also seem still. I’m sure the clouds if I close my eyes for what another moment.

The Big Wheel remains still, which being an invention meant to move, looks very relaxed in its time of tranquility. It enjoys nothing, but embellishes in it. I stare at it, and think like the Wheel.

And then comes the slightest interruption. A little raindrops followed by a sudden burst of sunlight from somewhere above, then a shout in the distance followed by a distant vehicle squeals its brakes. Such makes the silence a bit more meaningful, remembered. I wait for a few moments for the confusion to go away, maybe let the silence soak in. My phone suddenly beeps with another notification. I look to the screen to measure its importance. It’s too late, the phone battery is dead for now.

I sit back. Enjoy the silence a bit more. The sudden light dies out into the clouds, only a few more skydrops, then stop. I ignore the distant citylife the Big Wheel remains still, and then a seagull makes a familiar squawk. The sudden break in silence blending, adding to the new silence. And then nothing else for another five minutes, as I am left with the flavor of lunch and the last bit of root beer upon my lips.

Then more raindrops come. I get going, but remember the silence for what it brought. Such was a good time to let happen, and use well.

– Orion T

Working, listening, thinking to some chill, lo-fi rhythms

I work at home during this strange pandemic now.

That includes some freelance projects for clients, mostly involved with digital media management. That routine can be stressful sometimes. The work I do takes a lot of focus and dedication to nor waste time getting stuck or distracted. So, I put on my headphones to block the outside world. Then, I have the Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud, with the seemingly infinite plethora of musical access possibilities of the Internet.

Then, I have a mode that demands more focus and relaxation, to progress further through a mind that needs proper, encouraging flow. I feed that with some good music, and daily goals will be met. So many discoveries I look to now, some eventually bookmarked, favorited, playlisted, and noted.

With that in mind, I find a lot of chill beats more on YouTube now. Many are described as lo-fi, a term that I think will grow further in this new decade of growing anxiety.

This one above has been the most popular, helping to start this new trend of relaxing mixes with looping pictures…

I also get recommendations from friends, or stumble upon them in live streams or suggested by algorithm. If you have some, feel free to add in the comments!

In the meantime, back to productivity!

Orion T

On a side note, i wrote an article for another site (strangerworlds.com) featuring more relaxing and loFi mixes and soundtracks to popular Nintendo games across all generations. Do give it a chance, or listen to this awesome Legend of Zelda series one that is a saved favorite of mine now. Enjoy!

Hey look, I’m a Star Wars!

Oh, Marge!

Anyway, Happy Star Wars Day, even though it will over by the time you read this…

Yet, the many of us don’t stop really enjoying and appreciating those Star Wars.

Star Wars is with us forever. What a silly thing this science fiction franchise does for us! So many among love the characters, get deep into its expansive lore, praise, or groan emotionally at creative turns through the years across all mediums. And how remarkable and surprising was that Star Wars: Clone Wars finale? 10 out of 10 lightsabers up for me!

What is it about Star Wars appeals to so many beyond its initial groundbreaking movies from decades ago? There’s a huge plethora of cool creatures, spaceships, robots, action with laser swords and laser pistols. There’s weird space politics, mystical religions, various cultures, and lifestyles that keep growing with the many more movies, games, serials, books, whatever else.

I believe it’s the binding and bonds between established characters. There are ongoing themes about friendships, family, rivalries, comradery, and the sense that we are all connected no matter how far apart in planets we are. You can be a farmer, a robot, a princess, a bounty hunter, a soldier, a wizard, a princess, a knight. Somehow, there’s a possible connection in the universe for anyone to partake. Then go on an adventure, discover something about yourself or others, check out an environment opposite of your familiar zones, get the rush of an exciting and very high stakes battle. From all, gain something new for surviving the experience. Star Wars is just a fascinating thing that happens through its pop culture that will never end as long as humanity enjoys the escapism that science fiction brings us together.

May the Force be with you, always!

Pizza dude’s got 30 seconds…

In isolation, I can use some renewed cheers looking back on my childhood nostalgia. I learned a day too late of 30 years ago marked the cinematic release of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie. I was there on that day of the release at the AMC Kabuki 8 Theater in San Francisco, very excited.

I hold my nostalgic love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, grown from its super-weird, totally out there cartoon of the late 80s (and darker original comic books by creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird). I enjoyed the 1990 from day one, movie backed up by awesome Jim Henson puppetry, outdated jokes and 80s humor, a darker feel matching my brewing angst of city life, and somewhat restrained action scenes…a true experience, that I shall carry with me over 30 years later, into an uncertain present.

There’sThe some great messages in this movie, especially useful now. Social distance when necessary. Choose friendship wisely. The power of family is binding. Get through difficult situations with humor and challenge. Train, and listen to your wise elder (especially if it’s a talking rat). Possess the right thinking…only then can one receive the gifts of strength, knowledge, and peace. Anger clouds the mind, and forgiveness is divine but never pay full price for late pizza!

So, for TMNT fans out there moving forward with current challenges far worse than any Foot Clan now, remember your Turtle Power!

Orion T

Picture above: taken by me of my personally owed movie versions of the Ninja Turtles, released by NECA in 2018. Beautiful sculpts and worth every penny.

Waiting for the emptiness to pass…

Stay home if you are sick, avoid crowds, use keep washing those hands.

Weeks ago, many passed off the COVID-19 strain as just another virus, something that may die out soon, and whatever else puts most of our 1st world lives feel comfortable, and at ease.

But, then comes those little alarming reports of rising cases, people affected, and the deaths, all increasing at an exponential rate. Such was local here in Seattle, but then reported in other states, and other countries, and you then you look back outside, and the magnitude of the situation becomes global.

In the downtown streets of Seattle, the streets gain an unsettling emptiness. Devoid of heavy entertainment, there is mere purpose left among visitors and locals. Local business owners and staff share in the melancholy silence, lacking participation and their future in question. I choose a few small stores to spent money on some simple things around the Pike Place Market, doing what little I can with those little ounces of morale to spare.

Recently, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Italy remains quarantined, and many significant events closed down or canceled. Some are far more affected than others, and I feel a bit fortunate not to suffer at the bottom. Yet, I am also unhappy at the slow, messy response by our national government under the current Executive Branch administration. Still, we listen together now, anxious for the unknown days ahead and hope for a bounce-back recovery soon.

I felt a wandering need between destinations. I am currently unemployed and feeling the struggle of this new emptiness. Now, there are no new friends, no new gatherings. I fight this further despair with home projects, but taking a moment infrequent to appreciate the new calm. I reflect on what will be a hard lesson for humanity, that our civilization that relies on commerce and consumption means nothing to microscopic strains of viral infections. We should be mindful of each other; help when needed. That is how we best get through and keep living.

Meanwhile, here are some recent pictures of the new quiet around the normally tourist heavy areas of downtown Seattle. I hope for a return to the usual noise soon.

Orion T

Reflecting over what happens for happiness…

Not much happened over the weekend, and that may be a good thing…

That space gave me time to ponder, walk around, talk to people, participate in a project study, meet new friends, learn a little Python coding, fix my laptop, give a good hard look a change in direction, write some short stories which I will someday publish.

Okay, that’s a lot to reflect on. Yet still, not much really happened over the weekend because that was a lot of great moments that’s don’t imply drama, follow-up, expressing of concern of spreading the emotion of some great joy or sadness felt. I just had time to live in some great moments, that just developed with myself, friends, strangers. This was a all mixture of entertainment, study, creativity, sharing, pondering with some light planning. All happened, but passing through in a relaxing, smiling flow.

Oh, never mind. A lot happened, now that I reflect on my writing here.

Orion T

The picture above, I took last Friday night after some heavy rain, at the University of Washington. Here is the Suzallo Library on campus, an amazing building with a Hogwartsesque main reading room. I passed by that buildng last night in the dark, cold lonely night, with an urge to take pictures of the this beautiful observed moment. I really liked this shot, but wish I had a better camera to capture the fine details.

Happy New Year Blues for 2020

So, here I am late again, posting not quite timely. I lost track of time again, not quite looking back or forward. I am here, for each day trying to enjoy some moments when possible.

That’s how I left the previous year and decade, going back to how I began both, by escaping and walking distant ground, collecting my thoughts into sustainable moments of bliss. This time, to my old areas of southern California, to spend time with friends and family.

But finally, the New Year sharing part sinks in, and it’s eventually time to share in that joy, days later. Here was the glory of the first day of my new decade, upon a quite beach that is often used as a backdrop for Miami, Florida in various movies and TV shows. Here the long beach that is upon Long Beach, California.

I walked the first hours of daylight for 2020 late and midday slightly hungover from the Eve before. I embraced the warmish weather (compared to Seattle) healing, walking the local shore. The beach felt soft to my sandals with a lovely gentle breeze highlighted by a fresh blue sky, trying to ignore the bits of trash piled up from the recent firework festivities. I did well to resist the allure of social media and constant messages lighting my pocket sleeve, all Happy New Year or whatever. Rather, I stare into the calm of the larger world offered to me, and it looks back to me.

Very pleasant. This steadied for about 2 hours, taking my sweet time to stop and admire this simple moment. Occasionally, I would cross path with another human. We would smile for a moment, say a Happy New Year greeting, then move on in opposite direction. Sometimes, I would rest on the sand, occasionally taking out my notepad to scribble some thoughts and ideas in preservation of later creative productivity.

There was more to the day, of which I will share soon. And, more to this California trip, and more to the last decade and into this one. I have much fresh content, that I wish to share. But, choices were made towards giving myself time to unplug and rethink my life direction and not treat my writings and content sharing like chores. The timing is off, but the wait to those who share in my joys will find such late belated things to be timeless and worth celebrating on any day. I will post some more good stuff, soon.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year to all.

Orion T

Gloomy reflections in dialation

Enjoy what the sky gives to the ground, especially after the rain.

The picture above is from the basketball courts in Cal Anderson Park, in the Capitol Hill district of central Seattle. The rain hit hard, and the gloom remains. I returned from an eye exam with my eyes freshly dilated. The world to me was a blur for about 2 hours, But walking around, I can still appreciate the beauty in it when given, and here it was…the peace of the day upon an empty space.

I took the picture in blind faith, that all would work out in the right perspective.

– Orion T

So, what have I been up to lately?

Photo Mar 16, 8 13 16 PM

Life has been a heavy thing lately.

And sadly, as a result, I haven’t posted much. Some events and turns in my personal life have weighed me down, then lacking in both time and motivated effort to do what I normally love, and that is to write.

But, I think a strong part of that is needing a new direction in writing. Something fresh and interesting, while taking the time out to think deep and share compelling thoughts and information. I will get there eventually, but first I must take care of myself. Some of that involves getting away from my computer, enjoying personal time, cleanse the mind of troubling doubts, and work on improving my physical, mental well-being.

That being said, there are the little things I will keep doing to feed the simple joys of life because that helps. I still seek little adventures when the time is right. I still love checking out big gatherings, especially if it’s centered on my eccentric and often geeky interests. And then, there are wonderful sights and observations, I still enjoy sharing. What else is there?

I am looking into that, but need more time. Then likely, I will get back to more writing, and maybe something new.

Orion T

The above picture is a micro portion inside the recent 2019 Emerald City Comic Con, here in Seattle. I will share more on that soon.

Happy New Year, 2019

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Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, it’s the 2nd day but still shiny new, barely a scratch. 2018 is gone, out and past away. But, there had to be a better transition to end the year on a better note than it began. Something, to begin the new grand cycle around the sun with a motivational high note. Focus more on what makes me happy, and sharing it with others. That’s how I will enter this new year while seeking something a little extra along the way.

And that I did, by leaving the US and going to Canada for four days. I spent last weekend and more in Vancouver, Canada. There, staying at a hostel and planning as I go. I have done this twice before, but I still treat it all like something new. Because, there is still a vast amount of unexplored areas, things to do, experiences that I have yet to check out. Being that’s it’s close to my otherwise hectic and jumbled life by a few hours, such the escape is still a completely different dream, of which I welcome when I have time.

O, Canada. I missed thee. There, gained many new experiences and revisited simple joys. Through things learned and smiles exchanged, it’s been a wonderful breath of cold air throughout. Some of it was also very wet, and my only loss was my green wool cap. That was a good one, keeping my head warm in tough times. Now, perhaps forever lost, and left behind in the streets of Vancouver. Or better yet, someone else will find and wear it, with a fresh smile.

Meanwhile, I will share more details on memorable moments and findings in the days ahead soon. Look forward, and again…Happy New Year!

Orion T

The shot above is unfocused on the New Year’s fireworks in Downtown Vancouver, at its Convention Center. This moment was accidental, not knowing the lady in my cam sight holding the camera. But, I like the shot as something different from an interesting perspective that holds a different story, maybe. I think I will aim for more different perspectives, in 2019.

 

The Spirit of Christmas Present…

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And another Christmas Day has come and gone (almost midnight right now). We tried to be merry as many of us struggle with inconvenient news, emotional angst, and hardships. Yet, the best we can do throughout the day is share some warmth and light to others who may need it through support, prayer, gifts to others in need. In that collectivity, I hope this day was joyous in whatever way such can be delivered, or given to everyone taking part in this annual tradition.

– Orion T

My fantastic comic book relationship with Stan Lee

(Originally posted recently from my sci-fi/fantasy news site, strangerworlds.com)

Stan Lee, a brilliant creative genius whose heart and soul put into comic writing, editing, publishing ignited a new generation of comic books, inspiring beyond with no limits. His Marvel Comics brand became an essential modern myth to our culture, expanding beyond the printed page into every other medium possible. Though he passed away recently at age 95 after living a full and awesome life, his inspirations shall continue to awaken our inner superheroes.

Yet, there is something more to his work, in the ongoing limited series run that is my life. That is my connection to Stan the Man through the pages with his spirited philosophy on awakening the incredible, the uncanny, the fantastic to my yearning for some amazing fantasy. Such would inspire me to better create, adventure, embrace my geekish side, leading me to maintain my love for comic books for the decades ahead. And with all that, build a sense of duty toward helping many in need, especially when great power and privilege comes my way.

My first true exposure to Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics brand came at a turbulent time for me during age 9. I was in the middle of a difficult transition, moving to the big city of San Francisco from the suburban/rural life of Fresno, California. In that, I would also be reunited with my mother after separation for most of my early childhood, with a new stepdad I would hardly know at the time. I had already begun to miss my old friends and felt a bit overwhelmed by my new loud, confusing big city life.

Still feeling on page 1 of this new adventure, I would eventually visit my first comic book store, where my life would forever change. It was a small little store in the North Beach (aka Little Italy) area on Grant Street near the Coit Tower landmark. I think the store name was  “Best Comics” or something like that (not the nearby more famous, Comix and Comix, which I would discover later spend many afternoon school hours in). Within, I walked into the next giant splash page of my life, rich in detail and dramatics. Rows of comics books around me, with boxes of more below. Some stacks were stray, and come loose on counters.

There and everywhere inside, were some familiar friends from TV and toys. All with much more vivid color and detail, speaking in word balloons, in combat poses, expressing action. I saw the Amazing Spider-man, as known from my beat-up stuffed plush doll. I would see the X-Men, recognized from some comics in a waiting room at the last eye doctor visit. I saw the Iron Man, Thing, Captain America recognized..and more from a Marvel Super Heroes card game played often in the library of my early grade recess hours. So many familiar faces in colorful outfits; waiting for me to get to know them; take an adventure with any back home.

But, I had a little money to pick something. After some browsing, I gravitated to a spinning rack of paperback digest-sized comics. Such was not common for the comic book-sized format, but I wanted something with more pages, and easy to carry around. And eventually, I saw this small paperback book… Stan Lee presents The Incredible Hulk (#2).

Hulk

It was a 159-pages of full color, 1979 reprint stories of the older Tales to Astonish (mid-1960s, #85-99) stories of the continuous adventures of Bruce Banner, a scientist who would become the Hulk under very stressful circumstances. I knew the green goliath from TV live-action series, starring Lou Ferrigno. But here, he was different and greener with stories far beyond anything the TV show would offer, with more expression, more action, more Hulk! I would buy this with some pocket change, and then witness the pain and the power, the man-brute at his best!

Inside, the Hulk would prove himself as the strongest, against the US military, super-villains, aliens, the High Evolutionary, the Abomination, the Silver Surfer. Each chapter seemingly more excited than the last. Between the action, we got interesting internal struggles, especially within the Hulk and his other self, Bruce Banner. Both would conflict against each other as much as the outside world.  This drama is as exciting as the action itself was all written by Stan Lee himself, a name I would never forget.

Stan Lee, through passionate exposition and character building, would give me a message that would stick far beyond the printed pages. Inside, we have trapped within, some incredible greatness waiting to be released through some incredible circumstances. The greatness can be so outstanding and wonderful, that we struggle to recognize it when it’s upon our weaker selves. But in reaching that, we don’t want to look back, until the power becomes a troublesome burden. Then, yearns a return to innocence and normalcy until we need that power for greater responsibility.

That’s what I got out of this Hulk anyway. The difference in the Hulk from other super-types is that his heroism is more on a subconscious level. The Hulk would often find himself protecting the weak while crushing those stupid enough to try to exploit him. He is selfless, never looking to harm others. He would prefer to be left alone, and in that when there is no reason to fight, there is peace for the Hulk and Bruce Banner.

All that, presented by Stan Lee. A name I would first notice more in my next few rereadings of that awesome paperback.

His name would return again and again, in many more Marvel Comics I mostly gathered from cheap quarter bins, flea market finds, more bookstores. The later eighties and early nineties, I spent many hours growing up in the comic stores after school. There, always peeking into the comics of Marvel, and eventually other companies (DC, Gladstone, Mirage, Archie being my top favs).

But often coming back to Marvel, there would be new favorite stories from Stan Lee’s design stemming his creative work, and groundwork messages. The X-Men, heroes living a parallel of the fear and prejudice in today’s world. Spider-Man, a hero whose personal issues would be set aside to defend New York City. Daredevil, a hero for justice whose blindness is both his greatest curse and strength. The Fantastic Four, a family whose cosmic radiated superpowers would lead them into deeper explorations of the unknown. And, many more would follow.

Among them, my personal favorite, the Silver Surfer, after finding reprints of the earlier stories written by Stan Lee (#1-18, 1968-1970). This above all is Stan’s most philosophical, poetic storytelling of all. Every page full of Stan Lee’s presentation, dialogue, exposition of the lonely cosmic traveler in a constant struggle to understand the worlds around him, is awesome.

Over the years, the spirit of Stan Lee would carry on through countless cherished comic stories. Then beyond the cartoons and TV shows. Sometimes, Stan Lee would do some introductions or narration; bringing his passion for storytelling along. Eventually, would come to the movies, which he would have some hand in producing. And, there would be the cameos…always welcome to his fans.

And his presence would be felt at many conventions, often in person. I would attend a few of his panels, looking back to his past of promoting some collaboration on projects. I would even meet him, once by pure luck, while resting nearby his booth in the early 2000s at the San Diego Comic Con. He signed a Spider-Man collected stories paperback I happened to have in hand, and then we shook hands. “Excelsior!,” Stan Lee said with a blessing. That cherished memory, I would look back upon as the greatest echo of my comic book relationship with Stan, since seeing his name for the first time many years ago.

I still feel his work throughout my life, and sometimes it helps keeps the best parts of me going. I sometimes need the attitude of the Hulk on a bad day, the curiosity of the Silver Surfer in my travels, the energy of Spider-Man in keeping up with responsibilities, the leadership of Professor X for group organizing, the patriotic duty of Captain America when I join a protest. Stan Lee’s work continues to inspire me through the foundations of the fictional heroes he shared.

And much like the Marvel Comics that continue on through the comic stores and extended media, there never really is an end to it all. We carry on through reboots, cliffhangers, spinoffs. Though sometimes, we may not get some things right in interpretation.  And sometimes, there is are rediscovering of his lesser-known creations through better presentations, like the recent Black Panther and Ant-Man movies.  meanwhile, the presence of Stan Lee will carry on, reminding many of us of his original groundwork laid down for readers to grow from.

Thanks again Stan the Man, and Excelsior!

The momentum of the abstract view

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Sometimes, I look up. And, I take a picture with a camera.

Sometimes then, I forget to switch a setting meant for the night. The original shot was kind of boring, while the overexposed revealed a weird dimension of countless angles and forgotten math.

I love it.

The actual shot is below a fixture inside the Oregon Convention Center, in Portland. Further details of the moment are unimportant.

– Orion T

That Labor Day Spirit

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This Monday was a Labor Day holiday, to have off and perhaps reflect on the one thing people spend much of their lives on…laboring.

Labor Day is the last extended weekend for about the next two months. I think the privilege depends on how good your job is, for giving that time off (and paid) or gaining a higher wage if that day must be worked. For others, the struggle continues, as part of a long tradition of the fight to be treated humanely, with dignity, and have rights against unfair treatment. Otherwise, it’s a day we honor the working human.

But here in downtown Seattle and other cities, this becomes the day to strike and bring attention to concerns among the employees of the Marriott hotel chain. They circle outside some popular hotel entrances, making themselves visible and heard with a message, “One Job Should be Enough.”

From what I gathered from recent news, a recent development in contract negotiations for low-tier workers (housekeepers, workers, receptionists, bellhops, etc.) was not favorable among the over 8,000 involved, with wage increases not benefiting from reported profits, and forced reductions in hours for many among them.

On a small corner of 5th and Stewart for some hours, the Westin hotel (part of the Marriott chain), passing pedestrians can hear the raised voices of the hotel strikers. Drivers in that direction had to reroute, as a line protesters blocked the street, with law enforcement officials allowing that time.

The organized effort will hopefully turn the work negotiations in the favor for the striking workers, as they are a shining example of many on the bottom of the modern corporate structure, often ignored and worn down after giving so much to help those on the top to succeed and live out the best of there lives.

The further on positive direction our labor movements go, I think the more Labor Day will be a better day to celebrate, with less struggle.

I don’t want to grow up…

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Since my childhood, a part of me was always a Toys R’ US kid.

Then, the realities of adulthood will constantly break in to that innocent little world many of us keep inside. It’s a world of cool little action figures, cartoon nostalgia, board games, brick building, weird collectible nonsense. But, we grow up whether we like it or not, and now the best toy store chain ever has been eaten alive by vulture capitalists.

So goes the final end of Toys R’ Us retail stores over the weekend, in the United States (In Canada, I hear some will remain open), an excited place for kids since 1957. No more rows of tall aisles of childish joy, filled with colorful products with silly gimmicks meant to amuse and sometimes educate. There was odd feeling of privacy one can feel, in browsing the shelves of the large spaces of Toys R’ Us. The connection to that customer service, smiling and sometimes sharing in the simple joy of new toy product trends, is treasured. We can gawk and admire the great craftsmanship of classic Saturday morning commercialism. So much, left to memories now…

I brought myself to the Bellevue, Washington location last week to pay my final respects to the great toy store era now gone. I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures of the stripped down walls of a once great world of Geoffrey Giraffe. So, I share the pic above of a time earlier this year of a better time for such nostalgic joy.

I recently discovered this fun video of Toy’s R Us ads over the years of its long life. Here, exhibits a showing of the variety and odd ways the store helped develop our youth and still appeals to our inner child…

Forward, I move on to more growing up. Yet, I think I will always be a Toys R Us kid.

– Orion T

What we leave behind…

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What we leave behind for others is some rhythm.

The beat goes on in our heads, those jams of good times and shared love. We keep going, with what keeps us alive and smiling among us. For me, it’s the simple joys of walking and finding remnants of good times people have. A Pride Parade happened over the weekend, of which I heard went well. I missed it, being busy with matters. But, I see the pictures and stories on social media. I felt some of the fun, and appreciate remembering what others shared (mostly whimsical, colorful outfits with some nonsensical cultural references). I smile at some moments, then moving on.

The picture is from last Sunday morning. I was in a hurry for a meeting, then stopped for a moment to observe what was left behind. A small Guitar Hero instrument, adorned with Pride-friendly stickers. Whether leaving this behind was intentional or not, the applier was happy for the moment shared in sticking. I stopped for a moment, and smiled back.

Then, I took a picture. Maybe sharing it will keep the happy rhythm going.

– Orion T

Another Happy New Summer

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The Great Wheel at Seattle’s waterfront is still a favorite familiar site, along with the peaceful Elliot Bay waters beyond. After seeing the backdrop in gray for so long, I learned to appreciate the return of the blue for this middle time of the year.

The above picture is from a few days ago.

Today (and currently past midnight), I just realized the summer solstice time just started, as my life is full of busy distractions (and worn out from much work overtime) to further notice. Yet, I feel the pleasant, warmer temperatures alongside the brighter skies and wonderful smiles that come with. Such things give a natural comfort to my day, but I feel I am missing something else.

Hmm.

Perhaps, I should slow down and enjoy this summer season.

– Orion T

 

Picture of Today 12/17/2017, Seahawks Win?!

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Well, not really…

The game was terrible for Seahawks fans witnessed their team lost on its home turf to the Los Angeles Rams (42-7). Many left the stadium early, where I was among them. Those people, are not the best fans. The best fans stuck around to the last minute, cheering on the home team through their futile end. You can see in the picture above, the many who stayed, and those who did not.

And, that is the real win here for the fans. To enjoy the game among other fans, even though such did not go well, with some major players not present (Kam Chancellor, perhaps the most missed for this season). Many cheered, and still smiled and enjoy what was left, sharing the warmth of spirit on this otherwise cold day.

That’s enough win for me.

-Orion T

Reflecting on Star Trek: The Next Generation, 30th Anniversary…

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30 years ago on this day, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered with its two-part pilot episode, “Encounter At Farpoint.” And ever since, the show has had a profound effect on my journey through life.

I was lucky enough to catch it on its premiere night, not quite as eager in the beginning. But something drew me, being a mixed cast of characters on a big starship, seeking out new life, new civilizations, and boldly going…. On this new starship, the NCC-1701 Enterprise D, held an android seeking humanity in itself, a mighty alien warrior eager for new challenges, a blind engineer expanding his self in science and technological advancement, a ship doctor balancing her work with the challenges of single motherhood, a ship counselor with empathic abilities often not very helpful, a charming first officer, and a captain who seeks the peaceful, diplomatic, humanitarian solutions to every problem.

This would go on for seven years, and four movies. Star Trek: The Next Generation became a show I grew up with, identifying with much of the crew on their journeys and moral dilemmas. To me, the show was about finding self in seeing what’s out there. For the crew and the journey, establishing humanity’s place in the Alpha Quadrant as a member of the Federation; ever-exploring and spreading peace along the way while interacting with new alien species. Each crew member had an ongoing quest to reaffirm their place on the bridge as an individual and team. Through them as inspiration and admiration, I often dealt better with relatable challenges in school, social explorations, and direction in life.

So, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here are my top five favorite episodes in no particular order:

  • Darmok – Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien with a very complex language system. The challenge puts Picard’s communication skills to a great test, with the solution being finding common ground and learning about each other.
  • Q Who – The omnipotent Q throws the Enterprise into a distant uncharted space, where they meet the Borg. The experience is a lesson in humility for humanity, with new and iconic challenges to come.
  • Yesterday’s Enterprise – An awesome episode with much of everything packed in; time travel, an alternate reality, epic ship on ship battles, revealing history connecting the classic series with the new, crew members put in new roles, moral dilemmas, high stakes.
  • Chain of Command Part II – a gut-wrenching episode where Picard is held prisoner and tortured, physically and mentally. The acting between Picard and his Cardassian captor is intense, with an unforgettable ending. How many lights are there?
  • “The Offspring” – Data creates an android daughter for him, in a continual effort to be “human.” This raises dilemmas and challenges on multiple levels, in a new role he must take on as a father and protector. A mix of emotions results with twists and turns, leaving me as a viewer feeling sad in the end for a fictional character whose existence didn’t last.

Overall, I love Star Trek: The Next Generation for what it was to myself, and what it gave to its growing audience – a vision of the future for a possible destiny in the stars, where the exploring and bonding with the universe and ourselves will never stop. With that, I best recall that epic last line of Captain Picard from its very first episode, that still remains a most important marker for us all…

– Orion T

Picture of Today 9/10/2017, Admiring Distance…

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Here is a good day in the wind, where I sway low and look away. I admire the beauty of the distance I see, where time is slowed and clarity is gained. I wish I had more of this in the current days. With longer time and attention given to the distance, I could write more.

Orion T

Yesterday, Observing Tension and Community

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Recently was another day that best describes the ongoing situations that better define national social unrest tensions in 2017. This, by yesterdays headlines involving the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. White nationalist groups marched, and a counter protest happened. There was tragedy resulted from acts of hate, leading to terrible injuries and a horrific fatality.

A day later in Seattle, a different situation happened, and I was there for a couple of hours in the afternoon. A nationalist militia group Patriot Prayer (and other sympathizers including the Proud Boys nationalist group) gathered for something called a “Freedom Rally.” while they claim not to be associated with the White supremacy movement of the East, there are similarities with their rhetoric (in looking them up online): labelling those in favor of BLM, anti-Trump, progressives, immigrant defenders to some incorrect narrative of violent “Antifa” anarchy, while promoting their own version of religious and gun-toting freedom. Meanwhile, there are subtle roots of racism in the PP militia presentations, with the usual promotion of “All Lives Matter,” disregarding the message of Black Lives Matter with their own distorted narrative. They claim to bring something different to the table of social discussion which becomes lost when appearing in military gear, preaching hateful rhetoric, politically cheerleading for the alt-right and praise Trump for his controversial policies that alienate immigrants and Muslims.

But oddly, they shared the stage with those giving back harsh words to them, and the white nationalist sympathizing festering from the growing alt-right. Lots of loud speeches for Black Lives Matter, Indigenous people’s awareness, Bernie Sanders, anti-fascism, anti-capitalism, clarifying socialism, income inequality, anti-racism, and anti-Trump’ all drew loud cheers from the counter-protesters.

Meanwhile, the PP militia group held their area in the middle, mixed with independent media folk. The nationalist group used American flags as peripherals, which I found bothering because that assumes the US holds a special place its dominant white demographic, should any other groups of a different color or ethnicity, or non-Christian religion suddenly gather in military gear and taking advantage of open-carry protections. Such an imbalance suggests the American flag in regards to militias and accumulation of firearms, builds for white privilege.

Anyway, some of the members of the PP militia groups spoke as well, with some very passive aggressive speeches about tolerance and free speech. Such felt a bit silly, with many among them passing off fallacies, alternative facts, and hailing Trump as some lord and savior for conservative causes. Of course, those were met with heavy boos and shouts of “bullshit” It was all an amusing with the display of cooperative civility, allowing for this “Freedom Rally” and counter protesting to happen and keep itself in control, though there were a few troubling incidents resulting in arrests and police counter-measures.

Overall, those gathered around the PP militia were anything but those what social media haters would describe in general as the communist, mask wearing, violent, unemployed immigrants, or whatever else incorrect labeling is out there. Such is wrong in observation of the assembly of downtown Seattle natives I see every day, bearing every class, color, and ethnicities; all young and old, with visual styles suggesting many statuses and lifestyle choices. Most in part, pushing for an end to the threats of racism and fascism (many with signs and adornments expressing such).

I moved about in the outer circles, mingling with an otherwise chill atmosphere, occasional bursting in cheers and boos (depending on speaker and content). The conversations were friendly, with word exchanges about social change and the recent situation in Charlottesville, Virginia. Also, many funny comments about the silent PP militia man standing in the background on the stage, constantly chewing gum or tobacco for at least an hour.

So, another fun Sunday afternoon in Seattle, for which I glad I checked out. Such forums are always great staples of this city life, though can also be unpredictable. Yet, I feel these moments are worthwhile, in the peaceful interactions and learning more about each other.

– Orion T

The picture was taken from my phone around 3:00 pm, Sunday afternoon. I wished I took a better shot of the counter-protesting crowd surrounding then PP militia. Such was clearly a larger gathering, emphasizing the Seattle local response to nationalism and its disdain for the alt-right movements.

Catching up time!

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Lately, I have been ridiculously busy. So much, that I barely noticed a rushing illness while the sudden demands and happenings in life are constant, and overwhelm. Still, I think I worked a lot out, with much to sort out in the coming days.

Such that is my recent trip to San Diego, for a massive San Diego Comic Con gathering. Much happened there, with some reports from me on another site (strangerworlds.com). I also took some time to see some spots in San Diego and parts of the Orange County and LA coastline area. I will share many findings soon, in a series of rewinding posts.

Look forward, because I am much treasure to share.

-Orion T

My picture above is from downtown San Diego, during the time of the San Diego Comic Con nearby (July 19-23, 2017). Cartoon Network represents its current line-up with friendly faces.

Picture of Today 6/22/2017, A Seattle Dream?

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I took this shot with my phone. The location, being at the Washington State Convention Center in the outside park area. I am unsure of why I bothered taking this shot.

Perhaps, it was the interesting blooms on the large tree, giving an interesting look from afar. Or, the foreground of classy dressed people in some private event (being that it was fenced off and I was not invited). Or that, this area is normally empty on a weekday afternoon, and I originally passed through here to have a sit-down to relax on the nearby usual spot for sitting. I tend to take pics of things out of the ordinary.

Then, I looked at this later. And, I think it’s also the distorted backdrop of Downtown Seattle in the background. Perhaps, I think there is a combination of it all; where Seattle is now this growing magical land for the upper crust. But there are parts becoming slowly twisted, but go on unnoticed. That’s usually the part of the dream where someone wakes up, right?

Hmm.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 5/1/2017 – May Day

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Today was a calm May Day, for nothing too troubling happened here in the Emerald City of Seattle (or so I heard). There were many small marches throughout the day, and no riots.

But, I did happen to observe heavily some evening happenings in the Westlake Center Park of Downtown Seattle. Some pro-Trump supporters arrived and verbally clashed with anti-Trump supporters. Also among them, the usual anti-capitalists, religious promoters, climate-change activists, self-made superheroes,  anti-war groups (some were war vets, I was told), anarchists, and curious tourists. From a close distance and ready, were many armored police officers standing around with batons in hand.

But, most of the local attention circulated around the various tense confrontations between the pro- and anti- Trump groups. Though I heard much childish banter and expletives being thrown about, there was some intelligent talking and debate that occurred. Such civility was strangely refreshing. If we all can’t along, then lets at least talk.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 3/29/2017, Grounded Nature..

For this day in the Pacific Northwest, was trapped between the wet, gloomy morning and the sunny, windy evening.

In between, there was work and errands. Some phone calls were made, and I engaged in the usual mundane small talk, to somewhat expedite the usual hump day dragging on. For my second break, I did take a little time out of the daily routine to dip a tea bag (Earl Grey) and walked outside.

And, I noticed a small area of stones halfway planted into the ground, around a corner. Still wet the stones were, cleaned from the torrenting morning showers.Yet, peaceful and somewhat cozy in the grassy growth holding them tight. Such was the rocky site to ponder and bind with. I sipped my tea to the last drop and stared down, thinking of almost nothing until taking a quick snap from the phonecam.

And then, that break ended as I returned back to the daily routine.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 2/14/2017, Valentine’s Day

Another Valentine’s Day,

Where many express happiness unto special others in the form of colorful cards, sugary candy, manufactured flowers, that special phone call, or some silly social network update. 

For others, perhaps it’s another day..Singles Awareness Day, Super Taco Tuesday, actor Simon Pegg’s Birthday, astronomer Galileo Galilei’s Birthday, Simpsons creator Matt Groening Birthday, somebody else’s Birthday… whatever, everyday holds something special, significant for someone.

Just enjoy the day as you let it happen, for whatever it gives you.

Orion T

Picture of Today 1/3/2017, Horseshoe Bay to Nowhere..


Above is on a ferry north in West Vancouver, leaving the Horsehoe Bay to Nanaimo Bay, in British Columbia, Canada.

And there, was on a two hour trip later than planned, and not feeling well. So much so, that I cancelled my plans and heading back on the same ferry boat shortly after. The totally hours spent riding the ferry was about four hours. None quite wasted, as I felt rested and away from the troubles of life in that time. I tried writing, but not much done. Sickness is bad, bah.

But what I do have are some fun pics and notations the days before in the Vancouver area , including the New Years weekend. I will try sharing that soon. But in the meantime, enjoy whatever tranquility around, even when inconvenient.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 12/29/16, Holiday Leftovers..


A little leftover from the holidays, of which I have missed much.

The reasons, never mind. I was occupied with much else. Such is only that one begans to feel such things over the latent appreciation of them. Perhaps, to be preoccupied with other non-seasonal matters, the surroundings of things can distract. Yet, there are beautiful lights and things demanding of attention. That’s a lot of the holiday deco of which I was quite used to in this otherwise usual holiday season. 

Yet, here I was on the way home in the Westlake Center of Downtown Seattle. The rain was heavy, and my shopping bag of groceries soaked. I stopped and looked about, considering the best direction to buy a new umberella. The, I noticed much of the decorated lights along the streets and buildings, gone. The giant Christmas tree with adorned bulbs and sparkly lights, gone. The decorated cart selling hot cocoa and chewy holiday bits, gone. Yet, there was that Seasonal carousel, still there…slowly spinning in the dense rain and darkness. 

It will be gone, likely after the New Year’s time has ended. And that will be, no more holidays. In 11 months, perhaps again. But until then, just the memory we take for granted. At least I have the moment for now.

 – Orion T