March for our Lives 2018

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Yesterday on March 24th, millions took to the streets in the first “March for our Lives” national event. This one, very different from recent marches from the last two years, as the focus this time was mostly on gun policy change, stricter background checks, banning ARs, resistance to the NRA lobbying campaign and propaganda, safer schools, and many related issues. The event, led by survivors of the Parkland, Florida high school mass shooting with other young prolific speakers on stage in Washington D.C.

The Seattle city took part with its own impressive numbers on this beautiful sunny day. I joined among them, in support of sensible changes and sane thinking to the troubling counterpoint of arming more civilians and looser restrictions.  Seeing the many passionate marching people wanting a safer future with no mass shootings fill me with great hope for these tough times, as I expect them to heighten the debate on the complexities of the issue, then drive toward improvements on current gun policy.

Here are some picture snaps of the day from me…

– Orion T

The Seattle Women’s March of 2018

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On Saturday and mostly in the cities, the second annual series of Women’s Marches happened across the United States. Big results followed through once again, with an emphasis of unease towards the current President, his administration, and GOP establishment (also the year anniversary of #45’s inauguration).

The people of Seattle and surrounding areas arrived, and filled the march route for several hours by tens of thousands in number. The weather was murky with spots of light sprinkles with a forgiving temperature of the upper 40s. Signs on hand were many focused toward “liberal” causes, many of which are championed by strong-minded women fighting back today.

Especially for the Seattle event, there was a grand presence of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls March happening within. Such was heartfelt for the troubling history involving such, bringing awareness to the ignored gender-based violence in the United States and Canada to Indigenous Women. Here with the march, drums and native symbology mix with red cloth for solidarity to the victims and unresolved cases.

Here are my pictures of this event…

An overall good day, with refreshed optimism and new unity for our challenging times.

-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.

The Commentary of Comic Cons – Part 1

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I love convention gatherings, especially those catering to alternative pop culture or as others may refer to these as gatherings of “geek.”

This con life is my best time to enjoy among others my odd taste in the strange realms of drama, fantasy, science fiction, a good story, etc. Such things I have no preference for in delivery whether by print or digital, motion, still, active or interactive. However, I love the comic serialized format, the constant in my life since childhood.

A good “geek” convention covers as much as possible of these realms, breaking boundaries between. From there, personal experiences are gained where I could deep involve myself in all related joys and obsessions. One could make many new friends, mine inspiration, renew nostalgia, or best of all; involve oneself by becoming a creator, a become a part of something larger in creation.

So now, I would like to share some experiences I recently (last month) had at the great San Diego Comic Con, 2013 year. The Comic Con International, as this is currently known, is special and now arguably the largest geek gathering of its kind. Over 130,000 now attend, not counting the estimated extra 50,000 without badges checking out the expanded festivities throughout the Gaslamp District and beyond. Now, the great San Diego Comic Con is more than comics, including all the relatives crossing into the wonderful, “geek” territories of film, games, books, toys, etc.

One product of my related joys and obsessions, is my growing passion for concept art and world building. Below is an inspiring example from a small press booth at Comic Con, featuring the work of the Aen Chronicles by Robert Carter (shades-of-shadow.com)

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So for me, the Con caters to my bizarre tastes from the familiar superheroes and mainstream counter cultures to the obscure oddities and curious collaborations. From vintage comics of generations past to the latest trash movies to the multi-articulate action figures to the odd video game, and so so much more in between. All of it, and more is here.  Also, this is my 19th consecutive year attending this great show. So, I am remain excited for every year as my experiences with goofy things expand.

For this San Diego Comic Con 2013, I spend much of this time in the grand Exhibit Hall. For which, I will focus on for the remainder of this segment.

The Exhibit Hall, or Showroom Floor, or “the downstairs,” of any convention is the heart of any “geek” convention. Here, a myriad of dealers, creators, artists, writers, producers, exhibitions, distributors, and companies representing product await. All from the mega-companies/publishers/studios/distributors to the little indie creative soul standing before a small table with a stack of books to sign and sell. For Comic Con, there are subjects divided from drama, humor, fantasy, Sci-fi and related including but not limited to literature, motion pictures, animation, collectibles, etc.

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(For a future segment, I will focus on the history and my changing observations of the Exhibit Hall, of which I have much).

The grand Exhibit Hall is the fantasy come true for the imaginative mind to be exposed to new things, concepts, passions. New comics, especially from lesser known publishers can be easily obtained with a personal touch by the creators. It was here some years ago, I turned on to a favorite comic series, Locke and Key (by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez), simply from browsing at the impressive cover display at the IDW company booth. I purchased the first hardcover at a discount.and a some years later, I met writer, Joe Hill  at the same booth, same room.

I love the Exhibit Hall.

This year, I obtained much on the free previews of comics and graphic novels of interest. A few looking forward to but not limited to are: the new upcoming The Star Wars (comic basing itself on the earliest film script by George Lucas), the new Sandman series by original writer/creator, Neil Gaiman / artist, J.H. Williams III (a dream combo come true), Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction (loved his Hawkeye series), Spera: Volume 3 (great ongoing fantasy story by changing artists).  Also, I have interest in some more recent award winning series including Bandette by Paul Tobin, Sabertooth Swordsman by Damon Gentry. And there, is so much more..

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Overall, the Exhibit Hall is great for exposure to the expansion of your tastes. If you close yourself to the unfamiliar around here, your not getting the most of your Exhibit Hall experience.

The Exhibit Hall is complement to gathering new experiences, meeting interesting creative souls or perhaps becoming one yourself with the right timing or inspiring motivation. Experiences also include the gaining of new collectibles, or the exchange of currency for some special treasure.

Could you spot the potential for new experiences below?

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Here pictured above, is one tiny portion of the SDCC Exhibit Hall. On average is this crowded the large room becomes in prime hours. The space is over 460,000 square feet. The estimated walk time when crowded between both far ends is around 20-30 minutes. The areas most claustrophobic-inducing are the movie or television studios booths, where often free swag is given or presenting the occasional celebrity for photo-ops and signings. Some fancy their booth with set props, or previews of related merch, sometimes a giant HD screen.

During one stroll, suddenly the entire cast of the Game of Thrones HBO TV series.

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Included with these surrounding crowds, massive lines coil around the popular booths. Many involve the sale of convention exclusives or pre-sale items (mostly toys). Popular 2013 exclusives include a glow-in-the-dark Jason figure from the vintage Nintendo game based on the Friday the 13th films, a Breaking Bad Walter White figure in Hazmat gear, a 1966 style Batman figure doing the classic Batsui dance pose. The typical line for Hasbro on the opening days could cost one 2-3 hours of precious con time, but could be worthwhile for the early release of the largest Transformers toy to date (Titan Class Metroplex about 2 feet, transforms into a city).

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Honestly, many present are for the flipping of such items to others for much larger prices elsewhere (like eBay). For example, the Power Ranger Gold Morpher (whatever that is) will cost you $100 and a likely three-hour wait at the Bandai Entertainment Booth. The eBay sold average is a sure $400.00. Now for those in line for the collecting thrill, such an insane wait can be still worthwhile, because of saved money and the experience of a more direct contact with the producing company.

For a different example of direct experiences, not related to money…

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This is the giant head of the Ice King of the popular Adventure Time cartoon. I will be honest, of my ignorance of this strange cartoon. I have never watched a full episode. Yet seeing this, and the fans in line, cheering with their Adventure Time apparel and hats (worn by the popular main character, Finn), I could only feel a sort of empathetic joy with them, to have their love given back with such a tribute in the clever form of this booth, and others like it.

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Above, is my favorite display of the Comic Con 2013; the Nickelodeon Studios booth known for kid-friendly cable programming.  It seemed no matter what angle, the crazy aesthetics of Nickelodeons whimsical appeal called to the child in us all. Such a display is refreshing as these presenters are seemingly having as much fun as the attendees.

For me, I most look forward to the DC Comics booth, a consistent to every San Diego Comic Con. Here, a familiar roster of super-heroes are official represented: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other Justice Leaguers. For them, new stories and introductions across multiple formats of digital, print, collectibles are displayed.   Here and often, cool freebies including pins and comics are given out. This year for the DC booth, featured props of Superman costumes worn from past movies and TV shows were displayed. Also, much meet and greet happened with the writers, artists, and creators of current DC reads.

A favorite was witnessing fan favorite artist Dustin Nguyen (Lil Gotham) live-drawing.

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(To be continued in Part 2 for another day, when I discuss and focus more on the creative talent of the great Comic Con)

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

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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.