The 2018 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

The 2018 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2018

Day four of this look at our holiday tradition of LEGO advent calendars marks the last of this miniseries.

We’ve been doing these since 2015 and I have been chronicling the daily builds on Instagram. The 2019 and 2020 sets have been previously featured on this site, and to count down to this year’s builds, I’m taking a look back at the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 sets.

These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. Among my favorites over the years are the winter Chewbacca, the rebel pilot snowman, and the AT-AT and R2-D2 pair with reindeer antlers. The 2018 box bounced all over the Star Wars franchise, including the original trilogy, The Force Awakens, and The Freemaker Adventures (which I haven’t seen yet, but plan to soon since it’s on Disney+).

The 2021 day-to-day images are posted on my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me there for whimsical observations, tons of pictures of my dogs, and this annual tradition. That adventure (and December itself) begins tomorrow.

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This post’s cover photo is a remix of a photograph by Matthias Kabel. The original represents Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The 2017 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

The 2017 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2017

Welcome to day three of the look back at one of the holiday season traditions in my household. We typically like the annual LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, though we have been branching out a bit over the last couple of years.

We’ve been doing these since 2015 and I have been chronicling the daily builds on Instagram. The 2019 and 2020 sets have been previously featured on this site, and to count down to this year’s builds, I’m taking a look back at the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 sets.

These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. Among my favorites over the years are the winter Chewbacca, the rebel pilot snowman, and the AT-AT and R2-D2 pair with reindeer antlers. The 2017 box shifted the focus toward the Rebels television series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a little bit of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The 2021 day-to-day images are posted on my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me there for whimsical observations, tons of pictures of my dogs, and this annual tradition. That adventure (and December itself) begins in two days.

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This post’s cover photo is a remix of a photograph by Matthias Kabel. The original represents Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The 2016 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

The 2016 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2016

It’s day two of the look back at our holiday season tradition with advent calendars. We typically like the annual LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, though we have been branching out a bit over the last couple of years.

We’ve been doing these since 2015 and I have been chronicling the daily builds on Instagram. The 2019 and 2020 sets have been previously featured on this site, and to count down to this year’s builds, I’m taking a look back at the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 sets.

These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. Among my favorites over the years are the winter Chewbacca, the rebel pilot snowman, and the AT-AT and R2-D2 pair with reindeer antlers. The 2016 box focused on the original Star Wars trilogy with a heavy lean toward The Empire Strikes Back and a nod toward the prequel trilogy.

The 2021 day-to-day images are posted on my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me there for whimsical observations, tons of pictures of my dogs, and this annual tradition. That adventure (and December itself) begins in three days.

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This post’s cover photo is a remix of a photograph by Matthias Kabel. The original represents Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The 2015 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

The 2015 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar 2015

One of the holiday season traditions in my household is advent calendars. We typically like the annual LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, though we have been branching out a bit over the last couple of years.

We’ve been doing these since 2015 and I have been chronicling the daily builds on Instagram. The 2019 and 2020 sets have been previously featured on this site, and to count down to this year’s builds, I’m taking a look back at the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 sets.

These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. Among my favorites over the years are the winter Chewbacca, the rebel pilot snowman, and the AT-AT and R2-D2 pair with reindeer antlers. The 2015 box focused on the original Star Wars trilogy with a hoiday twist.

The 2021 day-to-day images are posted on my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me there for whimsical observations, tons of pictures of my dogs, and this annual tradition. That adventure (and December itself) begins in four days.

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This post’s cover photo is a remix of a photograph by Matthias Kabel. The original represents Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Rogue Squadron Grounded

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Rogue Squadron Grounded

November 22, 2021

I’ve seen various reports about the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron movie to be directed by Wonder Woman alum Patty Jenkins. The more reputable sites are saying that movie is merely delayed while others are reporting that the film is shelved indefinitely due to “creative differences” and friction with Lucasfilm.

Either way, this makes the third (at least) film project in the galaxy far, far away that is delayed, following trilogies by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and the David Benioff/D.B. Weiss duo (Game of Thrones).

The film by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) is still on the books.

Honestly, considering the immense popularity of starfighter titles in Star Wars history and the success of television for the franchise, this might be for the best.

In 1993, LucasArts released a space flight simulator game called Star Wars: X-Wing. It placed the player in the cockpit dogfighting against the Empire. It was followed by TIE FighterX-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, and X-Wing Alliance, along with several expansion packs. These titles advanced the stories of the galactic jet jocks and their missions.

Between 1996 and 2012, authors Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston crafted a ten-book series about the adventures of Rogue and Wraith Squadrons. This series still stands as a major milestone and fan favorite in the former Expanded Universe, divorcing readers from the Skywalkers and the Force and exploring the world of aviators. Michael Stackpole also had explored this territory a year earlier with the 35-issue comic book series Star Wars: X-Wing – Rogue Squadron. That series also included the 2005 prequel X-Wing – Rogue Squadron, which tells the story of Luke Skywalker’s departure from the fighter team.

The Prequel Era also got involved with 2001’s Star Wars: Starfighter and 2002’s Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter.

Rogue_Squadron_Movie_Logo

The tales of Star Wars fighter squadrons are immensely popular. It’s evident thanks to nineteen years of books, comics, and video games that the stories are easily serialized. I think that Lucasfilm would be better served by putting Rogue Squadron on television, treating an eight to ten-episode stretch as a novel length presentation in a continuing series of missions against the Empire, Imperial Remnant, or First Order. The stories of these pilot heroes are better served by long-form serialization instead of one-shot film treatments.

The room exists in the Star Wars legend and has potential for many years on Disney+ as the pilot roster can naturally shift. It’s also a great chance to explore the galaxy without lightsabers, Jedi, and the Force.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Your DNA is Everywhere

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Your DNA is Everywhere

November 12, 2021

This week, I have Veritasium on my mind again. I’m fascinated by DNA testing and forensic applications. This video, years in the making, was catnip to me.

If one of your third cousins runs a DNA test, your DNA is essentially on file. No consent required.

The implications are both fascinating and frightening.

Happy Friday. See you again soon.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Behind the Scenes of Nautilus

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Behind the Scenes of Nautilus
August 6, 2021

This week, the educational side of YouTube is on my mind. Specifically, I’m looking at a slice of submarine history with the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut.

The Submarine Force Library and Museum is home to the USS Nautilus (former SSN 571), the first nuclear-powered submarine in the world which now serves as a National Historic Landmark to educate visitors about the United States submarine force. The museum sits downstream from Naval Submarine Base New London on the Thames River, which is where I served for part of my submarine career. In normal times, it receives approximately 250,000 visitors per year.

The museum has a tour route through the forward compartment of the Nautilus, offering an in-person look at life on a nuclear submarine, including where sailors would eat, sleep, and work. In early 2021, Commander Brad Boyd presented a series of videos that go beyond the normal tour route and offer a substantial amount of historic and experience-based information.

I went through sub school with Brad and we served together at two duty stations. I was very pleased to see the news in 2018 when Brad took over as the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Historic Ship Nautilus, and this series was part of a larger effort to keep the museum in the public eye during the pandemic. It was a smart move during a tough time to run a public attraction.

Brad was recently relieved as OIC and sent on to his next duty station. I wish him and his family the best of luck. I know he’ll do well in the future.  

This series of eighteen videos represents a great way to learn about history and life in the Silent Service. 


Episode 1 – Nautilus Introduction and Overview


Episode 2 – Nautilus Torpedo Room


Episode 3 – Nautilus Wardroom


Episode 4 – Staterooms


Episode 5 – Operation Sunshine


Episode 6 – Attack Center


Episode 7 – Sonar, ESM, and Ship’s Office


Episode 8 – Control


Episode 9 – Radio & Interior Communications


Episode 10 – Crew’s Mess


Episode 11 – Storerooms and Battery


Episode 12 – Berthing and Chief’s Quarters


Episode 13 – Gallery and Storeroom


Episode 14 – Berthing


Episode 15 – Underneath the Superstructure


Episode 16 – Escape Trunk


Episode 17 – Sail


Episode 18 – Bridge

 


You can find the Submarine Force Museum on YouTube, Facebook, and their official site. If you’re ever in Groton, Connecticut, it’s also worth an in-person visit.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – The Physics of Bowling Balls

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Physics of Bowling Balls

October 1, 2021

This week, I have Veritasium on my mind. I love to go bowling even though I’m not particularly good at it. Bowling is fun and (before the pandemic) gives me a great opportunity to chat with friends in the time between throws.

I have seen a lot of these ball movements over the years, but I didn’t have enough information to understand why the physics worked like they did.

Veritasium did the work.

Happy Friday. See you again soon.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Debrief: Dragon Con 2021

Debrief: Dragon Con 2021
Atlanta, GA – September 2 through September 6, 2021

Just like that, Dragon Con 2021 is in the books! And, wow, it was a weird year.

Attendance was reported at 42,000 and you could definitely feel it. Thanks to the pandemic precautions – proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test along with a 100 percent masking requirement – and attendance caps (including limits on daily sales), the crowds were significantly thinner. Let me tell you, though, I could get used to an attendance cap at Dragon Con. Maybe 65,000 to 70,000 in normal times?

Despite the smaller crowds, we did a lot of good work this year for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, raising $120,000 for that charity. That’s $10,000 more than we pulled together in 2019 with just over double the weekend crowd.

It was also a getaway that I really needed. With everything that’s been going on recently, I needed to see the geek family and get my mind orbiting around a lot of fun and creative things. I mean, let’s face it, I’ve missed these people.

It’s important to note that the Marriott and Hyatt were flooded with partiers at night who weren’t wearing face masks. It seemed that, once the sun went down, enforcement went out the window. Since I’m seeing several reports of attendees popping positive for COVID-19, panelists who refused to wear masks on panels, and vendors who went unmasked at their booths, I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone get tested for COVID-19 (both rapid and PCR if you can) and limit the spread as much as possible in the meantime.

There were a lot of naked respiratory orifices at Dragon Con 2021. Far. Too. Many.

Read More »

Dragon Con 2021

Dragon Con 2021
Atlanta, GA – September 2 through September 6, 2021

Logo_no_background

Dragon Con!

It’s an annual tradition for me. It’s also a family reunion of sorts as I catch up with dear friends from around the world. This year will be my twelfth time attending (counting last year’s virtual events) and my sixth year as an attending professional.

If you plan to be there, you can find me at various over Labor Day weekend according to the schedule below. This year is a bit lighter than normal due to the continued pandemic – the COVID-19 coronavirus is neither joke nor hoax, and I fully support masking and vaccination until it is eliminated – but I’ll still be around having fun. I won’t be attending any parties or large gatherings, and I will be adhering to Dragon Con policies to combat the pandemic.

The convention app is available now – look for Dragon Con by Core-apps in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store – and will have the schedule of events soon. The list of confirmed guests, performers, artists, and attending professionals is available on the official Dragon Con site.

Dragon Con itself takes place in downtown Atlanta spanning five hotels (Sheraton Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, and Westin Peachtree Plaza) and the AmericasMart Atlanta exhibition center. The convention draws approximately 70,000 to 80,000 attendees annually and showcases one of the city’s most popular parades on Saturday morning at 10am. This year, the attendance numbers will be lower due to COVID-19 and the parade is supposed to be closed to the public. It’s gonna be an interesting con in that regard.

Dragon Con prides itself on contributions to charity and the community. You can find more information about those efforts on their webpage. Each year, the convention partners with a local charity organization and this year’s partner is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta.

If you’re new to the convention, consider stopping by the Dragon Con Newbies group on Facebook. It is run by Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony, and me, and is an in-depth community resource for information about this massive (and sometimes overwhelming) event. Memberships (tickets) for this year’s convention are available, however, due to the pandemic, memberships are limited.

Along with the attendance caps, all attendees are required to wear masks that adhere to CDC guidelines. The other preventative measures taken by the con this year can be found on their website.

If you want a printable copy of my schedule, I have a convenient PDF.

Note: All Dragon Con schedules are tentative until the convention ends on Monday. Even then, things are a bit suspect. As things change before the convention, I’ll update this post.

Revision History:

    • Rev 0 – 20 Aug 2021: Initial post.

The Schedule

I will be around starting Thursday to check in to the hotel, pick up my badge and Hard Rock Dragon Con gear, and get the ball rolling.

12:00p-4:00p: Dragon Con Newbies Walking and Rolling Tours (4 hours)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
Want to get a ‘lay of the land’ and find your way around the hotels? Did you know there’s a food court? Meet others new to Dragon Con and get a tour with some veteran con-goers. Last tours will leave approximately 3:30pm.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

5:30p-6:30p: Dragon Con Newbies Q&A (1 hour)
Main Programming
Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level, A601-A602
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share tips and tricks.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

10:00a: Dragon Con Newbies 101 (1 hour)
Main Programming
Hyatt, Regency V
First Dragon Con? Confused or overwhelmed? Savvy con attendees will share their tip and tricks for making your experience an awesome one.
Panelists include: Kevin Bachelder, Sue Kisenwether, Kim McGibony

1:00p: Getting Started with Digital Media: The Ups & Downs (1 hour)
Digital Media
Hilton, Galleria 7
Have you always wanted to podcast? A group of experienced podcasters will help with ideas on how to get started & making it past the dreaded pod-burnout. Topics include picking a subject for your show, equipment to record with, how to get an audience, & more. For beginners & vets alike.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Tyra A. Burton, Matthew Charles Malis

2:30p: Disney Afternoon: Rescue Rangers & More Goofiness! (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
A tribute to chipmunks dressed like Magnum PI & Indiana Jones, & other Disney excellence.
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Bethany Kesler 

4:00p: Disney Afternoon: All-Duck Edition (1 hour)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We celebrate the afternoon cartoons that solved mysteries & rewrote history.
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Bethany Kesler

10:00p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Lock-In: Howard the Duck (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
We lock you in with a crowd of semi-willing participants to celebrate Marvel’s infamous – and very first – theatrical movie. The only way to escape: donate to the Dragon Con charity!
Panelists include: No one else? Don’t make me do this alone!

[It’s worth noting here that there won’t be a parade flood this year. Saturday one-day passes are not being sold and the parade is for badged attendees only.]

11:30a: ESW Presents Doctor Who: The Movie 25th Anniversary!
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
In 1996, Doctor Who returned to our televisions in the classic TV Movie. The Earth Station Who team will delve deep into this unique production & the uphill battle bringing it to life.
Panelists include: Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Sue Kisenwether

1:00p: Classic Series Doctor Who (1 hour)
BritTrack
Hilton, Galleria 5
With the release of the entire classic series on Britbox, there has never been better access to the bulk of Doctor Who history. We will discuss this, the release of The Faceless Ones animation, & the expanding worlds of Classic Who on audio.
Panelists include: Davey Beauchamp, Dr. Scott Viguié, R Alan Siler

5:30p: …And You Will Obey Me: Doctor Who‘s the Master at 50 (Pre-Recorded Virtual Panel)
BritTrack
BritTrack YouTube Channel
Yes, the Doctor’s best enemy, the Master, is turning 50 this year, & we have some big discussions ahead of us. Except, of course, until the Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator on them. Say something nice!
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether, Dr. Scott Viguié, Rob Levy

7:00p: Classic Sci-Fi Charity Lockdown: Mac & Me and More (2.5 hours)
American Science Fiction Classics
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M103-M105
Will we watch Mac & Me, the movie that plunged off the cliff & into our hearts forever? The only way to escape is by donating to the Dragon Con charity.
Panelists include: JC De La Torre, Rita De La Torre

1:00p: Rising from the Shark: Re-invent the Team! (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M301
It happens for any number of reasons, ratings, licensing, actors, but teams change up. We’ve seen it in on the big screen & small with Arrow, Legends, Flash, The Boys, & many others. We’ll look back at when it works or doesn’t. The lost & found members that we miss, or are thrilled to see.
Panelists include: M. Haynes

2:30p: Collectors Panel: Toys & Merchandising in MSFM (1 hour)
Military Sci-Fi Media
Chastain DE – Westin
MSFM is more than just the moving pictures on your screen. From action figures & collectibles to board games to comics to apparel, come discuss & take a look at all the ways you can bring your fandom directly into your home!
Panelists include: Van Allen Plexico, John Hudgens

4:00p: Black Widow: Shadow of the Red Room (1 hour)
American Science Fiction and Fantasy Media
Marriott Marquis, Marquis Level, M302-M303
Long overdue from COVID & gender politics, Nat Romanoff finally gets to share her story. A spy thriller with considerations of family & identity. There are new heroes & villains, & all the usual MCU Easter eggs. Aren’t pockets great?
Panelists include: None specified at this time

8:30p: When Was Star Trek Ever Subtle? (1 hour)
Trek Track
Hilton Galleria 2-3
Star Trek has always been ripe with political & social commentary, but was it really more subtle during the TOS era? This panel will take a look back at several examples throughout the franchise and then ask: What’s changed, Star Trek or what we expect of it?
Panelists include: Sue Kisenwether

Nothing scheduled at this time.

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