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Miss Hannnah Hart, Ghost Dame of the Hotel del Coronado
Friday, 12 June 2015 16:29 Jennifer Devore
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Cheers, kittens! As the SoCal comic convention season is in full-swing (You remember Wednesday's Wild WonderCon, don't you?), my con cohort at Twisted Pair Photography and I are getting ready for San Diego Comic-Con 2015 (SDCC); in that process, we are partaking in a wee bit o' pre-con cavorting. Fortunately for us, Yours Truly has contacts; they might be in books, they might be in comics, they might be in beer. You don't know.

So, as it pertains to our most recent pre-conning, I have a query for you. What do the Library of Congress, IDW Publishing and San Diego Comic Art Gallery have in common? A vision of posterity, crackerjack curators, an historic backyard and a brewery within walking-distance. Two of these pip organizations have set up shop in a gloriously gorgeous San Diego community and, happily for all, they're both sitting pretty next to Stone Brewing beer garden.

Comics bulwark IDW, founded in 1999 by Ted Adams and Robbie Robbins, has grown so big in its britches, those britches have been let out to accommodate an 18K+ sq. ft. workspace in the posh yet chill, waterside neighbourhood of Point Loma. Think Range Rover-meets-Roxy, Brooks Bros-meets-Billabong, Nautica-meets-No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem. Situated serenely along the San Diego Bay and America's Cup Harbor, housed in one of the original barracks at the Naval Training Center (NTC) at Liberty Station, the cavernous, 1921 Spanish Colonial Revival edifice makes great digs for a Vans-and-RayBans kind of entity like IDW.

If you know my back-story, you know I was kicking around when the NTC was first built. Hoofin', flirtin' and jazzin' down in the Gaslamp and out by the seaside at The Hotel Del Coronado. Ushered in by Prohibition, 1920s San Diego was two-parts business, one-part good times. In 1921, the NTC commenced construction and by 1923 began rustling to life as a hive of naval activity. Having just come out of WWI, protection along the Pacific, offensive and defensive, seemed a good idea. Initially a training base for one-sixth of the U.S. Naval fleet, the compound soon came to house military classrooms, residential quarters, tactical training fields and everything the Pacific fleet needed to prepare for come what may. Come it did. By WWII's peak years, the NTC was home to more than 33K sailors. (I can't say the wartime Betties of San Diego had a problem with that!)

Today, the NTC is a far cry from its initial intentions. By the 1990s, Liberty Station was maneuvering away from military endeavours and into real estate. Now, it functions as a center for the arts, entertainment and business: retail, churches, beauty and wellness, hotels (Marriott, Hilton), golf (Loma Golf Club), leased office space, banking (Navy Federal Credit Union, natch), fitness, dining, culture, museums and so much more. What your great-grandfather saw as a campus for national secrecy and necessary aggression, you may now see as a weekend destination for Starbucks and SDCAG, SoCal Fly Fishing Outfitters and Capoeira Brasil, or California Ballet and Sushi Mura. Cap off your jaunty day with a pint at Stone Brewing and a run for Longboard Chips and New Zealand water at Trader Joe's, and you've got the new normal at Liberty Station. It's like Sarah Jessica Parker took great-grandfather's Naval-issue peacoat and stuck a giant, pink, silk rose on the lapel. The original bones are still there, but now it goes better with a Zara cocktail dress than a mop and bucket, you know, for dancing and swabbing decks whilst belting out Fred Astaire-style nautical chanties with your fellow sailors.

That's a nice story, but what about IDW, Hannah?, you gently prod. To continue ...

Notable as the fourth-largest comic book publisher in America (Disney Comics, The X-Files, Orphan Black, My Little Pony, etc.) IDW carries comic gold in its inimitable portfolio: twenty-five Eisner and Harvey Awards, more than eighty NYT Best-sellers, hundreds of freelance artists around the globe and, solely in 2014, more than 700 unique, analog and digital, titles. Additionally IDW dabbles in tabletop and hobby games, stickers, posters and other collectible merchandise. With all this street cred, not to mention being Liberty Station's largest tenant, you'd think they must be a bit haughty and unapproachable, like Hillary Clinton or that big German girl who works at Ruby's on the pier. Yet, no.

IDW is about as mellow and laid-back a group of folk you'll meet in publishing. If IDW was a Muppet, it would be Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. (Sam the Eagle would not approve of hot yoga being taught on-grounds.) If IDW was a time of day, it would be Happy Hour: affable, a good value and always ready to tell a tall tale. Like any good tale, there need to be visual aids; and that's how San Diego Comic Art Gallery (SDCAG) adds to the party.

Installed on the bottom floor of IDW's digs, in Barracks 3, the SDCAG opened to the public June 5th, 2015: "designed to educate and engage the local San Diego community and the region of Southern California with the sequential comic book and graphic arts". Owned-and-operated by IDW, the gallery houses an analog, research library (appt. only), artist-in-residence program (coming soon) and, for you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) aficionados, the Eastman Studio: a permanent installment of TMNT co-creator/artist Kevin Eastman's home studio and personal memorabilia collection. Throughout the year, SDCAG will install exhibits featuring a bevy of artists knee-deep in comic lore. The inaugural exhibit? Kevin Eastman and his TMNT.

With San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) just around the corner, geographically and temporally, (San Diego Convention Center, July 9-12, 2015) IDW/SDCAG have positioned themselves smartly for a pop-culture, coming-out carousal. As the cosplayed hordes descend upon America's Finest City, they shall find that besides The Old Globe, S.D. Air and Space Museum, S.D. Museum of Art, S.D. Natural History Museum and Hooters (For a lot of you mooks it's the closest you're going to get to San Diego boob.), the S.D. Comic Art Gallery will serve many of your artistic, and geeky, needs. To serve those more primal needs in Maslow's Hierarchy, SDCAG is fortuitously located right next door to Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens: an 11K+ sq. ft., glass-stone-and-wood re-purpose of what used to be the NTC mess hall. Hello, sailor! Buy a girl a stout and some crispy Brussels sprouts?

On June 4, 2015, the night before their grand opening, IDW/SDCAG held a VIP event, to present the art gallery on a more intimate level to those closest to the effort. That night, along with Ménage à Trois and J. Lohr wines, an oh-so-hoppy IPA flowed generously, provided by Stone. It's just good fence-building, proffering beer to the new guy on the block.

Whether it's an Arrogant Bastard, a Double Bastard, a Crazy Ivan or a Border Psycho, a quaff of Stone is always a great mingling lubricant. So, just in time for San Diego's greatest mingling event, IDW/SDCAG and Stone Brewing Liberty Station are celebrating con-season with Hop-Con 3.0, the w00tstout Festival: "Our annual celebration of nth-degree beer geekery".

Launching Wednesday, July 8, 2015 (same night as SDCC Preview Night), if you jelly beans can swing $40-$100/person, you can drink-and-geek with Aisha Tyler, Wil Wheaton, Kevin Eastman and the upper echelon of Stone brewerdom. To boot, you can be of the first to imbibe the "2015 Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout". Want more special beer? According to an inside source, there might be a Kevin Eastman/Kris Ketcham collaboration beer which might be called "Twisted Turtle w00tstout". (Call 619-269-2100 for more info. on advance tix and event specifics.)

But, JennyPop, what about the Library of Congress?, you ask wearily and patiently. Allow me to elucidate  ...

In 1800, amidst legislation which would move our new country's capital from the progressively sophisticated Philadelphia to the swampy backwoods of Washington, America's second president John Adams (1797-1801) understood the dire need for a local, congressional reading room, research facilities and library for this new nation. Moving merrily along its way, August 1814 saw Adams' library come to a fiery end as the British set our Capitol aflame. (Good thing we're all friends now.) Upon this news, then-retired, third president Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), and Adams' BFF, proffered his precious, voluminous, private library at Monticello as a replacement. Jefferson's collection and all that would be added to it over the years would become America's library: the Library of Congress.

Visionary like Jefferson and Adams, IDW/SDCAG understand that, even though the comic arts seem all too present and contemporary, at times even fleeting, wondering when this wild, geek, pop-culture rocket will free-fall back to Earth, history always needs a paper trail, even digital history. When tomorrow arrives, mankind always thanks those whom were ambitious enough to preserve the past. (Plus, if you've been watching Wayward Pines, you'll know that even in the year 4065, First Generation will need something to read. Why not Jem and the Holograms or Mr. Peabody & Sherman? Although, I would suggest against 30 Days of Night and Rot & Ruin. Those might be too realistic in WP.)

Adams, Jefferson, IDW and SDCAG also know America needs just the right word-nerd to curate the past and present, for the future. John James Beckley served as the first Librarian of Congress (1802-1807) under the Jefferson administration. In keeping with a national level of know-how, Harry L. Katz, former Head Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Library of Congress, will serve as the first curator of SDCAG. He now calls San Diego home. (Psst, Harry. The Starbucks at Liberty Station is a beautiful and breezy switch from the one you're probably used to at Seward Square. Still, it's hard to beat the small, window-table facing the streetlight on Penn. Ave., on a snowy D.C. morning. Enjoy our palm trees and ocean air, good sir!) Oh, breweries within walking distance of the LOC? A couple of Gordon Biersch, Capital City Brewing Co. and District Chophouse and Brewery. Yeah, D.C. is a far better walking-town than San Diego.

Kids, here's an insider's tip: San Diego is one hell of a town and you'll never grasp it in one long weekend. You can try though! Start by getting up early; you can sleep when you get home. Then, grab a quad shot over ice at Starbucks or Peet's and hit the terra-cotta tiles heading in any direction! If you're in town for Comic-Con, out for a sunny getaway from Beantown or the Big Apple, or if you're just a local doof like Moi looking for more stimuli than Big Steve's Comic Kitchen can give you, drop by the SDCAG, year-round. When you're done, treat yourself to a tantalizing brew in Stone's sunny, stony, garden bistro. It's your summer, kittens; do something fun with it.

Abyssinia at Comic-Con, kids!

 

Aside: A v special Thank You! to Denton Tipton and Rosalind Morehead at IDW, and Gary Sassaman at CCI, for a wonderful SDCAG opening event! Cheers to all!

Check back here for my SDCC 2015 coverage, floor Tweets @JennyPopNet and ... see if I get into this year's Souvenir Book again with my Catwoman article.

Update: Huzzah! My Catwoman article did make it into the SDCC Souvenir Book! That's #5. Who knows what next year will bring?

 

Hannah’s other fave places to haunt online?

JennyPop.net jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore

 

 

 
Sunday, 23 March 2014 09:48 Jennifer Devore
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- There! The Russian-Hungarian border! Did I ever tell you about the time I ...?

- No, Commander, but I ...

- The year? 1812. I had just defeated the Emperor Napoleon and rescued Empress Marie-Louise from his clammy, froggy clutches, winning her fair heart in the process. It was dawn, the sun had barely risen over the ...

- But, but, Commaaaander ...

- Yes! French cavalry all around me! I, all alone with naught but my bare knuckles! Man-to-man, hand-to-hand I fought off the Emperor!

- Yes, Commander. How riveting, Commander. Do continue. ~sigh~

 

Cheers, kittens! It's me, Hannah Hart! Now, I imagine there's a whole bushel of you numnuts whom have no clue who Commander McBragg is. (Note: "I wasn't born then." is not, I repeat, not an appropriate response. Where you born when Mozart wrote Die Zauberflöte? Were you born when Thomas Jefferson wrote Notes on Virginia? Were you born when Wilbur and Orville Wright lifted off the Outer Banks? No. Now stop using that sad excuse. It makes you sound obtuse, oblivious and uneducated. This goes out especially to the bank teller in San Clemente whom declared proudly, with the look of a dumb turtle, "I Love Lucy? I don't think I've heard of it. I wasn't born then." Idiot.)

Anyhoo, I digress, kids. Our own, kippy San Diego Symphony put on a doozy of a show last week and Yours Truly was there to soak in all the melodic goodness. Like getting Harvey Weinstein stuffed into a wetsuit, the concise one-hour and forty-five minute performance (incl. intermission and its $11 cocktails) was seeping and hissing at the seams with variety.  Whilst shorter than Yours Truly anticipated, it was most likely the perfect duration for a contemporary attention span: longer than a Disney animation, shorter than a Ken Burns documentary. Within these parameters, musical director Jahja Ling prepared for us a healthy feast of the classical.

  • Amuse-bouche of Haydn, Symphony No. 1 in D Major: light and refreshing like a crisp bit of apple, a little baroque violin and flute is the perfect bite-sized smackerel to whet the appetite.
  • First Course of Mozart, Oboe Concerto in C Major: always pleasing, never a bad one in the bunch, Mozart perfectly pairs with the incessant chatter of a know-it-all in the row behind you, schooling his friend on all things Mozart. Despite Mr. This was originally written for piccolo., Miss Sarah Skuster trilled her way into my brain with her lilting oboe solo, her elegant, nude silk-crepe and pewter sequined gown glittering and sparkling under the house lights as her form moved melodiously to Mozart.
  • Intermission: overpriced martinis and a de rigueur, long line for the ladies' room. For once, the line was not an annoyance but a nice indication that live performance and The Arts might not yet be dead. Considering a notable attendance of the college-aged, to boot, perchance the symphony is not merely the realm of the dottering and the wealthy.
  • Second Course of Martucci, Notturno, Opus 70, No.1:  just as one would expect of a late-19thC. Italian, Giuseppe served up a hearty, family-style serving of boisterous joy. The serving was small, the smallest of the night, but like any good ravioli, all you need is a few bites, and a bit of Prosecco.
  • Dessert by Zoltán Kodály, Suite from "Háry János": if Gammy Lippenstift -my paternal, Hungarian grandmama- was correct about anything, it was, Nem túl sok vacsoráznak. Helymegtakarítás a desszert! "Don't fill up on dinner. Save room for dessert!" That we did. This was the longest piece of the night and, this is difficult for a Mozartphile to admit, the grandest piece of the night. (Entschuldigung, Wolfy!) Like Gammy Lippenstift's rum-soaked Palacsinta (Hungarian crepes), Kodály and his own Cmdr. McBragg treated us to a rich and heavy, satisfying finale.

Before dessert was served, Navroj "Nuvi" Mehta, San Diego Symphony's pre-concert lecturer and affable M.C., regaled the audience with the plot points, ingredients as it were, of our coming selection. He tells us of the old, Hungarian legend which says a story must be true if preceded by a sneeze. If one pays close attention, one will note the suite begins with one grand, "orchestral sneeze": a great, instant crescendo which then swan dives six octaves throughout the entire orchestra.

Happily, too, for this old dame, he ever so politely offered a suggestion to the wet-smack, half-portions of the audience, likely the same ones whom never heard of I Love Lucy. As Kodály knows how to string together a tune and segue intriguingly from satire to drama and back again, Nuvi urged patrons to "please hold your applause between movements" and save it for the end. Thank you, Nuvi! What is this? Al fresco, Italian opera?! Hold your applause, jelly beans!

With libretto based on János Garay's 1843 epic poem The Old Veteran and Napoleon, Háry János is an Hungarian singspiel -a folk opera, more a country musical than traditional opera- first performed in 1926 at The Royal Hungarian Opera House in Budapest. The S.D. Symphony's offering was a suite of music from this singspiel: a purely instrumental performance of six movements, telling the same tale.

Háry János is an aging veteran of the Austrian Army, a cavalry hussar of the Napoleonic Wars. With little to do in his old age but drink and tell tall tales, he indulges locals with intricately-woven histories of his glory days: foreign foes, Herculean combat and lovelorn ladies left strewn across the land. This night at the smoky bar-tabac, he tells of the time he defeated Napoleon and his entire army, slashing and chopping his way through a thick Frog soup en seul and rescuing the Empress Marie-Louise, whisking her away to glitzy, waltzy Vienna for a life of Austro-Hungarian riches and coffeehouses.

Soon though, the country lad tires of her needy and high-maintenance, City Girl ways, longing for the simple life back in his wee Hungarian village with his childhood sweetheart, Örsze, presumably buxom and beauteous with hay in her blonde braids, an apron filthy with blueberry stains and a devoted herd of goats following her lovingly across the farm.

The saga and its music float seamlessly between the foolish ways of the French and the flighty nature of coquetry, using brass and piccolos to signify silliness and satire and the deep, dark, dramatic patriotism of our Hungarian hero, employing strings, oboes and a cimbalom to elicit feelings of human heartache, true love and national duty. The story ending with what Kodály himself described as "an ironical march of triumph" as the Emperor of Vienna returns to his sycophantic court; Háry János returns to Örsze and the farm.

Now, back to the Cmdr. McBragg discussion. (See, the topic came full-circle.) If you are not aware of Commander McBragg, as chided previously, I can only assume you are equally unaware of Hungarian director Zoltán Korda (b. 1895, d. 1961) and his 1939 film The Four Feathers. If you want to watch it, watch it. Suffice it to say here, it seems pretty clear that C. Aubrey Smith's portrayal of the pompous Gen. Burroughs in the film had to be an inspiration for The World of Commander McBragg. Was Gen. Burroughs inspired by Háry János? Maybe, baby. The timing is certainly correct. Think on that over lunch.

With the current release of DreamWorks' Mr. Peabody & Sherman, you might be aware of Rocky & Bullwinkle. (Please tell me at least you jelly beans know who Rocky & Bullwinkle are. Moose and squirrel?) Along with Underdog, (the canine adventures of Shoeshine Boy and Polly Purebred) Rocky & Bullwinkle aired cartoon shorts within their show, like Fractured Fairy Tales. The World of Commander McBragg was one of these shorts and today, the name McBragg is still synonymous with braggadocio blowhards. Like him or not, he does spin a ripping good yarn! If you see him at a steampunk party, stick close by ... but leave yourself an easy egress.

Interesting story, both Zoltáns, director Korda and composer Kodály, served as Hungarian cavalrymen in their youth ... just like Háry János says he did.

Now, many of you know my pally, authoress Jennifer Susannah Devore. Turns out she's quite the Austro-Hungarian fiddler herself. (Not to mention a bit of a Commandess McBragg. Zip it, once in a while, Betty!) With a few, albeit unsuccessful, symphony auditions under her belt, she can still play a mean Irish jig, a mournful Mother Machree and a very pretty rendition of Little House on the Prairie's theme song. She is also currently teaching herself The Blaggard's Drunken Sailor.

Nevertheless, her German-crafted, Pfretzchner violin awaits patiently in its leather case for her to pick it up seriously, daily, once again. Terrifying memories of stuffed-shirt auditions and creepy college tutors urging her to "run away with me to Paris where we''ll drink champagne and play violin!" still haunt her. (True story. Ick.) Come on, JennyPop! You owe your parents! How many years of expensive lessons? How many custom-made violins? Maybe a few more nights at the symphony will churn you into gear, you orch dork!

Beaded gowns, pricey cocktails, muted smartphones and the questionable tales of a mustachioed braggart? Sounds like many an evening I spent with Clark Gable. (Did you know that man had a 44" chest with a 32" waist? He was so uniquely proportioned only bespoke Brooks Brothers suits could fit that Heavenly physique. Zowie!) An evening of sophisticated, analog entertainment that doesn't take itself too seriously oft makes for an excellent date.

The moral of this story? If you used to play an instrument, pick it up again. Don't throw away that hard-earned talent, it's still in there; muscle memory is wild thing. If you have tales to tell, tell them and do it with pizazz! Hold court and gather a crowd! Wear more silk and sequins; at least pretend you care about your appearance. (Good Heavens, you're a schlubby generation!) Get over expensive drinks during a night out; it's still just a ten-spot. Eat more of your grammy's baked goods and always heed Grammy Rosalyn's advice: "A story must be true if preceded by a sneeze." Háry János never started a story without a good one.

"Yeah. Milhouse played the violin for years, until it turned out the vibrations were screwing up his bones."

-Kirk VanHouten, The Simpsons

Achoo!

Gesundheit!

Ah, yes. Quite.

@JennyPopNet

*Une mille mercis to SD Symphony's concertmaster Jeff Thayer, for spurring me on to play my violin again! Mesmerizing bow-hand, Sir!

 
Friday, 13 December 2013 08:58 Jennifer Devore
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Kittens, if the chilly, San Diego rain wasn’t a prompt to play indoors this December, the siren of invention, engineering,  technology and design was enough to lure a capacity-crowd of the curious to the first San Diego Mini Maker Faire. Ringing its knell from the warm beauty of the Spanish Mission-styled Del Mar Fairgrounds, this newest stop for the San Diego geek train proved bustling, hectic and promising. Besides, it’s Del Mar, kids! Even a permanent guest at the Hotel del Coronado needs a change of scenery once in a bit and this girl needs only an eighth of a reason to pop over “Where the Surf Meets the Turf”!

Billed as The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire is a congress of the imaginative and a place to share, and sell, ideas and wares. Known as the Maker Movement, this creative-following is gaining steam worldwide, with Faires staged from the Bay Area to New York, from Dublin to Rome, from Tokyo to Sydney. December 2K13 was San Diego’s initiation with its first ever, and hopefully annual, Mini Maker Faire. (Why Mini? Based on New York’s version, there is much room to grow.)

An all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors, Maker Faire worldwide is a cerebral wonderland for anyone with an imagination and the temerity to do something with it. Like a geeky cocktail party, minus the good booze (although some form of vile, domestic, beerwater was available at John Dillinger prices), the gathering is, as Maker Faire claims, a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness … part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new.

Waiting in a very long, very slow, very wet line to enter San Diego’s first Faire, a talkative and cheerful USD student spoke authoritatively about the Bay Area venue, claiming it to be, with just a dash of good-natured condescension, “much bigger, way better and lots of actual symposia and lectures”. Fretting about the $12 entrance fee, wishing she had purchased the cheaper, $10 ticket online, she hoped San Diego’s effort would be worth it. Sizing up the hall’s exterior from under her fur-trimmed parka-hood, she sneered a bit and said with a twisted smile, “Kinda doubt it.”

Whilst the entry fee, plus $15 parking was relatively steep (Consider the Grand Dame of geek fests, San Diego Comic-Con, runs $12-$42/day) and the line was agonizingly slow (only two ticket windows), the cerebral and visual stimuli inside Bing Crosby Hall assuaged the lighter wallet and damp boots. Awaiting the rain- and line-weary crowds was a bevy of crafting booths, science experiments and technological demos, including a proverbial explosion in the popularity of 3-D printing: Yoda heads, TARDIS and Millennium Falcons proving the most popular products of the 3-D craze. The most inspiring, fascinating and useful of the 3-D buzz? Robohands: building appendages for those with hand anomalies, in mere hours! Don’t have $80K for a prosthetic? No worries. A set of blueprints and a 3-D printer (approx. $2K to purchase; a pittance to rent; maybe even one exists in your office) and you’ve got a hand by day’s end.

If one’s avocation, vocation or profession tends toward technology, real science, science-fiction or even steampunk, one would be pleased in the tightly-packed confines of the Faire. To boot, Comic-Con and WonderCon regulars would note some friendly faces on the periphery: San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club, to name a couple.

San Diego Star Wars Society and San Diego R2-D2 Builders Club shared a space and, as one would expect of them, brought a fan’s enthusiasm to the franchises. SDSWS is like AA, for Star Wars geeks. If they put out a calendar, Tina Fey-as-Liz Lemon-as-Princess Leia-as-hologram would be their centerfold. Meet-ups are a way for fellow San Diego Star Wars freaks to gather and geek out over any and all things SW. From movie marathons to cosplay-and-props workshops, from collecting and gaming to convention field trips and even charitable events (notably Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation: Fighting Childhood Cancer, One Cup at a Time), the simple goal of this SoCal space sodality is to have a good time with like-minded dorks.

If Thomas, a kindly Swiss San Diegan manning the booth, is any indication of the folk you’ll meet at SDSWS, this coterie of Chewbacca connoisseurs would indeed be a pleasant diversion from the leagues of snarky, snippy, Star-savants out there, of both Wars and Trek. Welcoming, informative and inclusive, Thomas was anathema to so many Star Wars experts blitzing about the planet, propelled by their own hot air.  Smiling and eager to chat, hopeful to bring anyone into the fold, even the wholly uninitiated, Thomas offered no snorts of derision or condescending blinks when fielding even the simplest questions from children and adults alike. Enthusiastically, and with the slightest Teutonic accent, he shared the simple mission of SDSWS: “Come and join us to talk about Star Wars and have a good time!”

If the future isn’t your gig, but futuristic is, Gears & Roebuck: Rusty Junk Emporium and The San Diego Steampunk Community (including the Adventures of Drake & McTrowell: Perils in a Postulated Past) were on-hand, in very wee numbers, it should be noted, to hawk a few antique wares, tell some tall tales and share the collective mission of steampunkers worldwide: “We fight with invention, we fight with ingenuity. Full steam ahead! All aboard!” Our own Dr. Lucy, naturally was in Heaven; the gears in her own noggin whirring and ticking as she flitted between the two booths, trying on air-conditioned pith helmets and mechanized corsets, and testing the efficacy of thermometer-regulated moon backpacks and giant, sterling silver spoons for feeding her pet octopus Onslow, back at our Hotel Del.

Generally a well-read, sartorially-intense and whimsical crew, the Victorian votaries are tinkerers extraordinaire, taking cues from the likes of  Jules Verne to Bill Gates. Steampunk inspiration reaches back to Sir Charles Wheatstone and his stereoscopic imaging (predecessor to today’s 3-D imaging) and forward to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. If you’ve yet to explore the world of steampunk, do acquaint yourself. If you’re already in the know, and living in San Diego, the San Diego Steampunk Community just might have the perfect, Phileas Foggesque, space-age tool to scratch that ruddy itch.

Will the Maker Faire make it to San Diego again next year? The Maker Movement is gaining traction in metropoli everywhere.  Judging by the Mars-level heat generated in this sardine-packed venue, it seems plumb stupid to not capitalize again on the funky, inventive and creative nature of San Diego folk. However, like Kim Kardashian’s jeans, the Bing Crosby Exhibition Hall was packed to the seams and ready to burst if anyone took a deep breath. My recommendation, promoters? Bigger jeans and maybe some air-conditioned pith helmets.

Full steam ahead! Ahoy! Abyssinia and Merrie Christmas!

 

Follow @JennyPopNet #MakerFaire #StarWars #Steampunk

 
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 12:06 Jennifer Devore
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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit … Memorize it, kids. It could come in handy. If Lorem ipsum can work as a centuries-old, standard placeholder for text, why not for speech? Consider the awesome applications: political conversations over the holidays; awkward, totally unexpected, sexual advances by a friend; foot-tapping queries about your Internet-browsing history; traffic stops by your local boys in blue. (On second thought, don’t give coppers the Lorem Lip. They don’t seem to have much of a sense of humor these days.) In fact, the mysterious, quietly-omnipresent Lorem ipsum we all know and love has been used as a text placeholder, almost as long as there has been text … almost.

Bored with telling the same stories at every Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Super Bowl party, ancient Chinese Buddhists living circa 650 C.E. decided it a far better idea to share their holy texts with loved ones via print: enter stage-left, the first movable type, Chinese woodblock. Using rag paper methods learned from the far reaches of the Islamic Empire (Mesopotamia 3,000 B.C.E. being the birthplace of cuneiform handwriting and, eventually, putting all that to paper), these scholarly Buddhists, notably Wong Jei in 886 C.E. who printed a scroll for his parents, believing it to bring them good luck, set about printing many a scroll filled with kindly, Buddhist tenets. These kind ideas were met with mass silencing and murder of the printers by their own government, not to mention the burning of those very nice scrolls.

Fast forward to 1450-55 C.E.. Johann Gutenberg replaced the wood and clay, blocked type (whole pages set vs. individual characters) with metal type and printed the first substantial, commercial book with individual, movable type: The Gutenberg Bible. Some sixty years after that, Martin Luther would use movable type to tell the Catholic Church a thing or two about a thing or two.

On Hallowe’en Night 1517, Luther tacked his Ninety-Five Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, arguing against the Church’s “sale of indulgences”: basically buying one’s way out of purgatory. Before the Church could say “Hail, Mary!”, scores of Luther-fans, using Gutenberg’s printing press method, helped spread The Ninety-Five Theses all over Europe, much to Catholicism’s dismay.

By the by, there are forty-six surviving copies of original Gutenberg Bibles, most of them resting peacefully in Germany. There are, however, eleven in the United States. If you know how to have fun the right way, including throwing around words like incunabula, and are fortunate enough to live near The Huntington Library, Yale, Harvard, the Library of Congress, Indiana University or any of the other American venues, I suggest you treat yourself to one of mankind’s wonders of ingenuity, before the growing masses of half-wits and jelly beans make the printed book completely obsolete.

 

Anyhoo, to the point of all this: Lorem ipsum is merely dummy text used until permanent text is put in place. Designers and printers have long realized that potential clients will be distracted by actual content when perusing a spec piece of print: pamphlets, books, theater bills, advertisements, etc. Lorem ipsum looks just enough like a natural distribution of letters and phrases to fool the brain, without taking focus off the layout. First recorded usage of Lorem ipsum is c. 1500 C.E. when an anonymous printer used it to create a type specimen book. The interesting thing is that whilst it looks like Latin, it also looks like random twaddle. It is, in fact, a combination thereof.

Lorem ipsum actually comes from two sections of Cicero's De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, or The Extremes of Good and Evil, written in 45 C.E., in Latin. If you're just geeky enough, and I know you are, you'll scroll down to see the full, standard Lorem ipsum passage used by printers and designers. You'll then note one of Cicero's sections, from whence the passage comes. The letters marked in bold make up the now-standard, fill-in text of Lorem ipsum. It's like taking bits of text from a Simpsons comic book and creating your own language: Eat my shorts, man! becomes Atmy ort sma! Finally, if you're still interested, Cicero was translated for us, lovingly, by one H. Rackham of Cambridge, Mass. in 1914. Note his work below, as well.

Like so much political discourse, Lorem ipsum is simply a Straw Man, or an Aunt Sally, as the Brits call it: superficial, space-filler taken from original ideas and used to create the illusion of words and meaning, until something better comes along. Try the Lorem Lip next time your boss wants to know why you've logged so many hours at hamstergrrls.com or your prof asks if this is your own work.

"Well, sir. You see, lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Right? Oh, and also, atmy ort sma!"

If you say it with confidence and add proper gestures and facial expressions, it will take them a few minutes to figure out what's going on. If that doesn't work, there's always Ctrl+Z, kittens!

 

Follow @JennyPopNet #loremipsum #printing #history

 

For the truly geeky ... read on!

  • Standard Lorem Ipsum passage, used since the 1500s

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

  • Section 1.10.32 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum", written by Cicero in 45 B.C.E.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

  • 1914 translation by H. Rackham

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

 

 
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