Culture on My Mind – Juneteenth

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Juneteenth

June 18, 2021

This week, I have Juneteenth on my mind.

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. It is also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day. It was established in 1865, when over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas were finally informed of their freedom.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. It was formally issued on January 1, 1863, declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed.

Planters and other slaveholders had migrated to the more geographically isolated Texas from eastern states to avoid the fighting, many of them bringing enslaved people with them. This increased the enslaved population of Texas by thousands, and by 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in the state.

News of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, which happened on April 9, 1865, reached Texas later in the month. The western Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2nd, and by June 18th, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government.

The following day, while standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, General Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Even though the event is popularly thought of as “the end of slavery”, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to those enslaved in Union-held territory. Those slaves would not be freed until a proclamation several months later after the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.

The freedom of formerly enslaved people in Texas was given legal status in a series of Texas Supreme Court decisions between 1868 and 1874.

June 19th is still officially celebrated as Juneteenth in Texas. Every state in the Union except South Dakota and Hawaii recognizes the event.


There are several places to find more information about Juneteenth and its impact on the Black community. I have highlighted four of them below. I hope that they offer a chance to learn about the importance of Juneteenth and spark further interest in finding out more about it.

“Why all Americans should honor Juneteenth” from Vox:

Vox also has a discussion and other resources at their website.

NextGen America presents a history of the event and how it has shaped the experience of Black people in the United States:

The Washington Post explores what Juneteenth tells us about the value of Black lives in America:

Finally, Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott made a detailed presentation of the holiday’s history back in 2013:


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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 – Pershing’s Own and Queen

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Pershing’s Own and Queen

June 11, 2021

This week, I’m reaching back to May 2020 and the United States Army Band. The U.S. Army Voices and Downrange joined forces to present a medley of hits by Queen.

You can find more about Pershing’s Own and the Army Band’s ensembles at their official website.

These musical versions of Culture on My Mind are short and sweet. Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you again very soon. Take care.

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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 – Good Puppers and Dreams Given Form

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Good Puppers and Dreams Given Form
June 4, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track keep on rolling out genre goodies. This time around, it’s time to look at the bestest bois and Babylon 5.

On May 20th, a group of dog lovers joined forces to analyze the best canines in science fiction. Guests this go-round included Linda M. Young from Lassie Web, Kristen Kerouac and Kevin Eldridge from The Flopcast, and Lola Lariscy. These fine folks also brought their favorite rescue and pet adoption centers to the game:

On May 27th, the American Sci-Fi Classics Track joined with the fine folks of Military Sci-Fi Media Track to form a League of Non-Aligned Tracks and discuss that shining beacon in space, all alone in the night: Babylon 5. This panel included Karen Henson, Sherman Burris, John Hudgens, and Nathan Laws and discussed the show’s history, its impact, and if it still holds up nearly 30 years later.

 


We’re all caught up for now. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Rumor says that future discussions may include a little MST3K, some thoughts on the best dads of science fiction, and more classic movie musings.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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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.

Rabbit Rabbit – June 2021

Rabbit Rabbit
June 2021

Rabbit, rabbit!

Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.

Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.

While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is June.

History

June, known as Junius in Latin, originates from multiple places. One of Ovid’s origins is an ode to the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the supreme deity Jupiter. The second is the Latin word iuniores, meaning “younger ones”, which contrasts with maiores (“elders”), a potential origin for May. The third is Lucius Junius Brutus, founder of the Roman Republic and ancestor of the Roman family gens Junia.

In ancient Rome, mid-May through mid-June was considered unlucky and unpromising for marriage. Ovid relates a consultation with Flaminica Dialis (the high priestess of Jupiter) about setting a date for his daughter’s wedding during which he was advised to wait till after June 15. On the other hand, Plutarch implies that the entire month of June was more favorable for weddings than May.

On the ancient Roman calendar, the festival of Ludi Fabarici spanned May 29 to June 1, Kalendae Fabariae took place on June 1, the Festival to Bellona took place on June 3, Ludi Piscatorii took place on June 7, and Vestalia took place between June 7 and June 15. A Rosalia was held on June 20, and the Secular Games were held roughly every 100 years in either May or June. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

June also contains certain meteor showers, including the Arietids (May 22 to July 2 with a peak on June 7), the Beta Taurids (June 5 to July 18), and the June Bootids (June 26 to July 2).

Observances

Further observances in June include African-American Music Appreciation Month, Pride Month, Caribbean American Heritage Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Oceans Month, and PTSD Awareness Month.

Canada adds in ALS Awareness Month. Barbados includes Crop Over (through the first Monday in August) and the Season of Emancipation (spanning April 14 to August 23). The United Kingdom celebrates National Smile Month in June.

In the Catholic tradition, June is the Month of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

June also contains Juneteenth, a celebration of the emancipation of slaves in the United States. It is commemorated on the anniversary date of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army general Gordon Granger. That announcement proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas, the last state in the Union to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

Finally, June contains the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – the day with the most daylight hours – and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere – the day with the fewest daylight hours – although the polar regions are exempted.

Trivia

  • June’s birthstones are the pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Pearls are emblematic of perfection, incorruptibility, long life, and fertility. Green alexandrite represents growth, peace, hope, calm and fertility, whereas red alexandrite represents conflicting characteristics such as energy, power, passion and aggression. Moonstone represents hope, sensitivity, and abundance.
  • The western zodiac signs of June are Gemini (until June 20) and Cancer (June 21 onwards).
  • The month’s birth flowers are the rose and honeysuckle.

Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.

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

Culture on My Mind – Gingertail’s Mandalorian

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Gingertail’s Mandalorian

May 28, 2021

This week, I have music from The Mandalorian on my mind.

Specifically, this cover by YouTuber Alina Gingertail.

These musical versions of Culture on My Mind are short and sweet. Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you again very 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 – Spooky Golden Radical Marvels

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Spooky Golden Radical Marvels
May 21, 2021

Over the last three weeks, the fine folks at the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track have been playing with the late ’80s and early ’90s.

On April 29th, the track celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Addams Family. Stormy O’Dell, Toni-Ann Marini, Keith DeCandido, and Shaun Rosado stopped by to talk about this 1991 adaptation of the classic 1964 television series. Created in 1938 by cartoonist Charles Addams, the property acts as a satirical interpretation of the stereotypical 20th-century nuclear family. To that end, it’s pretty much an evergreen story.

On May 6th, Stormy O’Dell and I joined the track to discuss the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. I talked about some of my history with this medieval and mythologically-inspired adventure series a couple of weeks ago, and we barely scratched the surface of this cornerstone Nintendo series. 

Finally, Michael Bailey and Keith DeCandido sat down with Gary and Joe to answer a question: What if the Marvel Cinematic Universe happened starting in 1988 instead of in 2008?

Radical.

 


We’re all caught up for now. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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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 IDIC Podcast Festival

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The IDIC Podcast Festival

May 14, 2021

This week, I’m promoting a Star Trek-themed podcasting festival helmed by Women at Warp: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

IDIC Podcast Festival - 1920x1080

The Women at Warp crew will be hosting a virtual podcast festival on July 17-18, 2021. The weekend event will honor the Star Trek principle of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC) by celebrating and amplifying the diverse voices in Trek fandom through a series of live podcasts.

The general announcement, call for programming and contributors, and important dates leading up to the event can be found on the event page at the Women at Warp website.

The IDIC principle is something that I believe in and the Women at Warp team is a champion of the cause. I’m more than happy to spread the word.

Today’s press release follows.


Women at Warp Launches the IDIC Podcast Festival

Women at Warp: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast is pleased to launch our call for applications for the first IDIC Podcast Festival, set to run July 17-18, 2021. This weekend-long virtual event honors the Star Trek principle of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC) by celebrating and amplifying the diverse voices of our fandom through a series of live podcasts.

Over the past year, COVID-19 has taken away so many opportunities to connect with diverse creators and audiences in person. At the same time, we’ve seen fans taking to social media to seek out and share podcasts that approach Trek from diverse perspectives. As an intersectional podcast we know that women’s issues are inextricably connected to issues of race and class, LGBTQIAP2S+ issues, disability issues, and more. The transformative period that we are in gives us an opportunity to truly center voices from all these diverse communities in our fandom.

Any podcast that showcases diversity in its hosting lineup is welcome to apply for the IDIC Podcast Festival, whether newly-launched or well-established. We welcome shows that do not exclusively cover Star Trek in their regular episode lineup, but ask that panel submissions for this event be Trek-related.

Admission to this virtual event is free. Podcasts will be streamed live on Women at Warp’s Facebook and YouTube pages and podcasts will be welcome to share recordings in their own feeds after the event.

The deadline for podcasters to submit applications is Friday, June 18. Click here to apply.

For more information, visit out event page at womenatwarp.com/IDIC-fest or contact us at crew@womenatwarp.com.

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About Women at Warp

Women at Warp is a groundbreaking bi-weekly podcast committed to examining Star Trek from a feminist perspective, exploring Intersectional Diversity in Infinite Combinations with a rotating crew of seven hosts. Tune in for everything from episode and character analysis to history of women behind the scenes and in fan culture to discussion of larger themes and messages throughout the franchise. Women at Warp is part of Roddenberry Podcasts. For more information, please visit womenatwarp.com.

About Roddenberry Podcasts

Roddenberry Podcasts is a network of audio shows that deliver thought-provoking, insightful entertainment wherever you are. Podcasts that dig deep into Star Trek, social commentary, science and critical thinking – all ready to download in one place for you to enjoy on your commute or whenever you need a little lively discussion. For more information, please visit podcasts.roddenberry.com.

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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 – Death Mountain

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Death Mountain

May 7, 2021

This week, I have The Legend of Zelda on my mind.

We joined the Nintendo Switch crowd last Christmas and I finally got the chance to dive into the experience of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That game has simply blown me away. Embracing an open-world approach to gameplay, Breath of the Wild tells a grand story that is completely up to the player to structure as they see fit.

After the tutorial phase is completed, the player could easily take Link into the heart of evil and confront Ganon. Such an approach would be foolhardy of course, but the point is that conquering the dungeons is not a requirement this time around. On the other hand, the depth of the story, from the main quests to the various side quests and treasure hunts, is spectacular. There are a ton of stories across the Kingdom of Hyrule, and that’s what has kept me from finishing the game after nearly half a year of playing it.

I mean, yes, I feel bad leaving Princess Zelda in the lurch against the awesome power of Ganon while I gather crickets, buy a house, and broaden my wardrobe of armors, but the rich tableau is just that addictive.

One of the aspects I love is the music. Manaka Kataoka, Yasuaki Iwata, and Hajime Wakai have composed a beautiful score that couples new themes with re-orchestrated tributes to the now 35-year-old history of the franchise. If you’re familiar with Zelda‘s musical history, there’s no finer example than the two Hyrule Castle themes in Breath of the Wild.

Among those tributes, however, was a theme that took me back to my childhood with a just a tiny bit of the nerves.

Welcome back to Death Mountain, it said.

The original Legend of Zelda was a (pun intended) game-changer in 1986 because it offered the possibility of preserving your progress with dedicated save files. Being able to pick up an adventure right where you left off is a standard now, but it was quite the novelty then. Over quite a long period, I fought my way across Hyrule and gathered the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, but then sat the game down for a while.

During that time, my brother Nick was living in Washington and we wrote each other on a semi-regular basis. I sent him a letter that talked about school and life and my plans to storm Death Mountain. He had told me before about how difficult the dungeon was, but when he wrote back, he included a hand-drawn map of the level.

The map is lost to time now, but it still remains one of my treasured memories. It was photocopied from the original with custom artwork in the corner of Link rushing to the rescue. The maze of rooms and passages was coded by number and provided an easy to follow guide to the endgame. He even provided a suggested path that included the big treasures and simplest road to victory.

The battle itself, of course, was completely up to me.

I remember that it was a Sunday morning when I decided to tackle the level. All through the game, the music had been the same mix of the Overworld and the Dungeon themes, so I really had no idea what to expect in the final dungeon. The first step into the labyrinth brought the dark beats of the Death Mountain theme and I had to take a few minutes before leaving the opening room just to let it sink in.

The theme faded into the atmosphere as I ground my way through the level. I picked up the Red Ring to boost my defenses. I found the Silver Arrow, which is the only weapon that can kill Ganon. I meticulously tracked my progress and ended up at the room before the big battle.

This is where I lost it.

The Legend of Zelda was the first Nintendo game I had ever finished. When I reached that penultimate room, I knew that I was close to that milestone and my nerves hit me hard. Without even pausing the game, I sat the controller down and closed my eyes. While I centered myself, the music kept playing. After a few minutes, I picked up the controller again and walked into Ganon’s chamber.

The room was pitch black. Link held up the Triforce. Ganon snarled in the light. The fight was a blur but I distinctly remember firing the Silver Arrow and turning Ganon into dust, revealing the Triforce of Power.

I knew I had done it. I had beat the game. I entered the last chamber, met Princess Zelda, and watched the credits roll in a state of euphoria. It was amazing.

Looping back to Breath of the Wild, part of the story takes Link to Death Mountain. The game’s tribute to that theme caught me off guard. As I was climbing around the rocks those familiar notes took me right back to that feeling of nervous euphoria. I stopped for a moment and listened, remembering the story I recounted today, before smiling and climbing onward.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could rest as a wonderful capstone to the franchise but we already know that it’s not the end of the line. It could easily be the basis for the oft-requested Zelda live-action or animated adaptation. So much of that is the story and the setting and the music and the artistry, but a big slice of it is personal. It’s my adoration of the mythology and the adventure.

It is the memories of working hard on something and reaching the payoff. It is the connection I share with my brother in a simple map to help me along the way.

It’s probably why The Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game franchise of all time.

I guess, in a way, I owe it to Death Mountain.

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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.

Rabbit Rabbit – May 2021

Rabbit Rabbit
May 2021

Rabbit, rabbit!

Since at least 1909, a superstition has lived in North American and the United Kingdom that if a person says or repeats the word “rabbit” upon waking up on the first day of the month, good luck will follow for the remainder of that month.

Elements of the tradition exist in the United Kingdom, New England, and even in various First Nation cultures.

While I’m not necessarily endorsing the superstition, it provides a way to look in depth at each month of the year, from history and observances to miscellaneous trivia. The topic this month is May.

History

May was named for the Greek goddess Maia, identified with the Roman goddess of fertility Bona Dea. The festival celebrating the Roman goddess was held in the same month. The late Russian Empire also used the term for a picnic held early in the month. This picnic, mayovka, evolved into an illegal celebration of May 1st (a day of worker revolution).

In the ancient Roman calendar, the month is a big one for festivals. Bona Dea fell on May 1, Argei fell on May 14 or May 15, Agonalia fell on May 21, and Ambarvalia on May 29. Floralia, which began on April 27, carried on until May 3. Lemuria (festival) fell on 9,11, and 13 May under the Julian calendar. The College of Aesculapius and Hygia celebrated two festivals of Rosalia on May 11 and May 22. Rosalia was also celebrated at Pergamon on May 24–26. A military Rosalia festival, Rosaliae signorum, also occurred on May 31. 

Ludi Fabarici was celebrated between May 29 and June 1. Mercury would receive a sacrifice on the Ides of May (May 15). Tubilustrium took place on May 23 as well as in March. These dates do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.

May also holds several special devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Catholic circles.

Observances

Further observances are plentiful, including Celiac Awareness Month, Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness month, International Mediterranean Diet Month, the Season of Emancipation (spanning April 14 to August 23 in Barbados), Better Hearing and Speech Month, the Kaamatan harvest festival in Labuan and Sabah, Flores de Mayo in the Philippines, Garden for Wildlife month, New Zealand Music Month, National Pet Month in the United Kingdom, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, National Smile Month in the UK, South Asian Heritage Month, World Trade Month, and Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month.

The United States adds another batch, including Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, National ALS Awareness Month, Bicycle Month, National Brain Tumor Awareness Month, National Burger Month, Community Action Awareness Month (in North Dakota), National Electrical Safety Month, National Foster Care Month, National Golf Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Haitian Heritage Month, Hepatitis Awareness Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, National Military Appreciation Month, National Moving Month, Older Americans Month, National Osteoporosis Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, and National Water Safety Month.

It makes a lot of sense in the Northern Hemisphere since May is the gateway to the summer months.

Trivia

  • May’s birthstone is the emerald. It is emblematic of love and success.
  • The western zodiac signs of May are Taurus (until May 19) and Gemini (May 20 and beyond).
  • The month’s birth flowers are the Lily of the Valley and the Crataegus monogyna. They are both native the cool and temperate climates of Asia and Europe, as well as the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States.
  • Another significant flower is the Mayflower (Epigaea repens), a North American harbinger of the month and the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts.

Rabbit Rabbit is a project designed to look at each month of the year with respect to history, observances, and more.

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

Culture on My Mind – Sci-Fi Metal of Death and Rock

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Sci-Fi Metal of Death and Rock
April 30, 2021

It’s time for another round of discussions and mayhem about classic science fiction, brought to you by the fine folks at the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track.

On April 15th, Chad Shonk, Jonathan Williams, Jeff Burns, and Amy Splitt stopped by to take your clothes, your boots, and your motorcyle. It has been three decades since T2: Judgment Day graced theater screens, and the classics cast was eager to talk about it.

On April 22nd, a different kind of metal was on the table. Heavy metal music and sci-fi and fantasy are inextricably connected, from album covers to Tolkien references and beyond. Metal experts Mark Finn, Sean Reid, Kevin Cafferty, and Tom Morris took the stage to explain how GWAR, KISS, Steinman, Frazetta, and more influenced the genre was love.

 


We’re all caught up for now. Fun times lay ahead, and if you want to play along at home, get thee hence to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp – A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast.

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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.