Culture on My Mind – The Classic Two-Fer

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The Classic Two-Fer
April 25, 2022

This week, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track gives everyone two (two! TWO!) panels for the price of one. Which is still free.

On April 21st, Joe Crowe was joined by author Bobby Nash (bobbynash.com) and Lola Lariscy (on Twitter) for a celebration of the mystery and romance of Remington Steele. At the halfway mark, Gary Mitchel relieved Joe and brought in the panel of Beth Van Dusen (Execute Chapter 66: A Star Wars Fiction Podcast) and Kevin Cafferty (Let’s Get Chatty About David and Maddie) to discuss the pure chaos of The Young Ones.

That’s two shows that couldn’t be more different. Well, except that there’s a British guy in an American show, and there’s an American guy on the British show, but who’s counting?


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or 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.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next panel will be on May 5th. The future of these panels includes an appreciation of a staple of 1980s television, a Bat-Panel, a special late May surprise, some vampires, and a discussion of Saturday cartoons. You can find all of this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

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 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.

STEAM Saturday – Sunrise, Junk Science and Gender, and Global Supply Chains

STEAMSaturday

STEAM Saturday
Sunrise, Junk Science and Gender, and Global Supply Chains
April 23, 2022

In this edition, take a look at the sunrise across the world, junk science and gender, and global supply chains.

STEAMHeadlines

NASA – A Sunrise Across Our World (Apr 22, 2022)
Every 24 hours, the space station makes 16 orbits of Earth, traveling through 16 sunrises and sunsets. The full-resolution image can be found on NASA’s site.

GMT076_EHDC3_1157
Image Credit: NASA

Scientific American – How Junk Science is Being Used Against Trans Kids (Apr 8, 2022)
Researcher Jules Gill-Peterson (Ph.D., Rutgers University) has been studying the history of transgender kids for years. Here’s what you need to know.

Wall Street Journal – Why Global Supply Chains May Never Be the Same | A WSJ Documentary
Every day, millions of sailors, truck drivers, longshoremen, warehouse workers, and delivery drivers keep mountains of goods moving into stores and homes to meet consumers’ increasing expectations of convenience. But this complex movement of goods underpinning the global economy is far more vulnerable than many imagined.

 


STEAMSci

Be Smart – A PBS Digital Studios science show hosted by Dr. Joe Hanson (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology). 

Veritasium – A combination of the Latin for truth, veritas, and the suffix common to many elements, -ium, this show is literally an element of truth. It is hosted by Australian-Canadian science communicator, filmmaker, and inventor Derek Muller (Ph.D., Physics Education Research).

 


STEAMTech

Becky Stern – Becky Stern is a maker living in NYC – making and sharing are her two biggest passions!

Jerry Rig Everything – Zack Nelson has used his love of repairing, simple explanations, and brief tutorials to help millions of people with repairs of their own. Outside of YouTube, his ‘to-the-point’ style of teaching has created instructional and informational videos for manufacturers and factories around the world.


STEAMEng

Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.

Jared Owen – Jared Owen uses 3D animations powered by Blender to explain how things work.


STEAMArt

Nick Zammeti – A woodturner and artist based in the United Kingdom, Nick Zammeti thrives in funky and creative projects fueled by a healthy love of pop culture, especially Back to the Future. [A]

The Smugglers Room – Building something out of nothing with a Star Wars flair is the order of the day in the Smugglers Room.

Moonpie Creations – Ken is a woodworker and creator who likes to have fun. A combat veteran, he uses his tools as a way to relax and deal with everyday stress. He loves to try new things, think outside the box, and stay cool.

 


STEAMMath

Alex Yard & Knuckles – Enjoy some video game music theory videos with Alex Yard.


STEAMMulti

I Like To Make Stuff – Bob Clagett likes to make stuff, whether it be home renovations, fixing up a vintage car, or building an astromech droid.

Wendover Productions – Wendover Productions, run by filmmaker Sam Denby, is all about explaining how our world works. From travel to economics, geography, marketing, and more, every video will leave you with a little better understanding of our world.

 


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. If your suggestion is used, your name will be credited.

Disclaimer: Please note that any sponsored content or advertising presented in videos and/or links highlighted in STEAM Saturday are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Creative Criticality. Pursue such content and offers at your own risk.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.

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STEAM Saturday is a celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

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

Timestamp #247: Nightmare in Silver

Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver
(1 episode, s07e12, 2013)

Timestamp 247 Nightmare in Silver

Planet’s closed. Moose out front should have told you.

The TARDIS lands on Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, which looks suspiciously like Earth’s moon. Clara, Angie, and Artie are unimpressed, but the mystery of a man waiting for a ride and the appearance of armed troops adds a little interest. The Doctor poses as the Imperial Consul (courtesy of the psychic paper) before the group follows the mystery man, Impresario Webley, into the depths of the abandoned amusement park.

It is there that the group meets a Cyberman.

Webley claims that it is no threat – the living Cybermen were apparently destroyed a thousand years before – and only exists to play chess for fun. Artie offers a sandwich as the entry fee to play the Cyberman but ends up losing in no time. The Doctor investigates below the table and finds a man named Porridge, the brain behind the machine.

Webley shows off the rest of his Cyberman collection. He also shows them a wax figure of Emperor Ludens Nimrod Kendrick Cord Longstaff XLI, Defender of Humanity and Imperator of Known Space. The group returns to the mock lunar surface for a bit of fun with an anti-gravity ride, after which Clara wants to take the kids home but the Doctor decides to investigate the area. Clara and the Doctor put the kids down for a nap and start poking around.

Meanwhile, Webley resets his chessboard and finds out that his dead Cyberman is far from inert. In fact, the area is swarming with Cybermites, which also infest the kids’ mobile phones. It’s really hard to kill off the Cybermen.

Clara walks with Porridge and learns about the Cybermen. He tells her of the Tiberian spiral galaxy, which had to be destroyed to eliminate the entire race. Porridge comments that he feels like a monster since, instead of mourning a billion trillion deaths, he feels sorry for the person who had to press the button.

Clara realizes that Angie has wandered off, and she has indeed, ending up in the barracks. The captain has a little talk with her while Artie is abducted by a Cyberman. The Cybermen attack the barracks as Clara and the Doctor arrive, showing off skills we haven’t seen before as it takes Angie. The silver menace seems to have leveled up recently.

The captain tells the Doctor that she’s commanding a punishment platoon, exiled to this place to prevent them from getting into trouble. The Doctor promotes Clara to platoon commander and goes in search of the kids. Clara begins rallying the platoon to find a defensible position, which ends up being Natty Longshoe’s Comical Castle.

The Doctor searches for the kids, leaving a message with one of the Cybermites that they are under his protection. He uses the device to transmat to the kids where he finds a partially converted Webley who honors him as the savior of the Cybermen. Webley uses Cybermites to infect the Doctor, who then becomes the new Cyber-Planner.

Or, rather, Mr. Clever. Ugh.

Inside the Doctor’s mind, the Time Lord competes with Mr. Clever as the new Cyber-Planner begins strengthening the collective Cyberiad. The Doctor threatens to regenerate and burn out the cyber components, but the Cyber-Planner declares a stalemate. Each entity controls 49.881% of the brain, leaving 0.238% unclaimed. They decide to play a winner-take-all game of chess to determine who will control it all.

Meanwhile, the Cybermen begin their assault on the platoon, starting with a guard named Missy. Clara takes stock of the army’s inventory, noting that they have only one firearm and a device to destroy the planet which only the captain can arm with her voice. Clara orders that the device will not be used under any circumstances.

As the Doctor and Mr. Clever play their one-man game, the Cyber-Planner notes that the Doctor has been erasing himself from history. The Doctor replies with his knowledge that cleaning fluid and gold can scramble the Cyberman coding, and uses his admission ticket to the park to do so. The Doctor takes temporary control and collects the chessboard, leaving with the kids and Webley.

Back at the castle, the captain and Porridge discuss a small secret. Clara interrupts with the question of why they would blow up an entire planet to eliminate a single Cyberman. The captain decides to arm the planetary bomb but is stopped by a Cyberman. Clara goes on the offensive and mobilizes the platoon with hand pulses and their single firearm.

The assault has limited success since the Cybermen have their Cybermites acting as spies.

The Doctor and his associates arrive at the castle where he briefs Clara on his situation. He also notes that the Cyber-Planner is working on a patch for the gold weakness. He sets up the chessboard again before Mr. Clever returns. While the Cyber-Planner jousts with Clara, the Doctor passes notes to her, working around the pathways that the Cyberiad is assimilating.

Clara has her troops electrify the moat and raise the drawbridge as Mr. Clever awakens the legion of Cybermen hiding beneath the planet’s surface. When called to the Doctor’s side, she’s skeptical that she’s talking to the Time Lord. It snatches the remote trigger for the planet-bomb and shatters it as the Cybermen arrive.

The Cybermen wade into the moat, upgrading themselves to bypass the electrical shock, and storm the castle while the Doctor continues his match. Mr. Clever offers the children in exchange for his queen with the knowledge that he’ll beat the Doctor in five moves. The Doctor accepts, but the Cyberiad tries to betray him by ordering Webley to kill the kids. Luckily, Porridge arrives and disables Webley with a hand pulse.

The battle rages on and the humans are losing. The Doctor taunts Mr. Clever with a strategic trap, forcing the Cyber-Planner to spend more processing power on the chess game and less on the battle. The Cybermen freeze in place as the Doctor outlines his three-move plan to defeat the Cyber-Planner.

Move One: Turn on sonic screwdriver. Move Two: Activate pulse. Move Three: Apply pulse.

The Doctor slaps himself with a hand pulse and distributes the Cyber-Planner into the Cyberman army. Now free, he consults with Clara about the planetary bomb, and Angie suggests that they ask Porridge about the codes. After all, according to the coins and the statue, he is the Emperor.

Sure enough, Porridge is the leader. He debates activating the bomb, reluctantly doing so. Luckily, the bomb’s activation signals the Imperial Flagship which arrives and transmats everyone and the TARDIS to orbit. The assembled group watches as Hedgwick’s World of Wonders (and, presumably, all of the Cybermen) is destroyed.

Porridge remarks that he liked being normal, but offers Clara a marriage proposal in order to have company while he rules again. Clara replies that she doesn’t want to rule a thousand galaxies, to which Angie declares that she’d love the opportunity to be Queen of the Universe. The Emperor smiles and sends his visitors on their way.

The Doctor returns Clara and the children to their home, pondering Clara’s identity once again. Meanwhile, the Emperor ponders if any Cyberman technology remains. As he flies toward home, a single Cybermite floats through the cold of space.


While I give Neil Gaiman credit for trying something new with the Cybermen, this one falls flat.

Since The Tenth Planet, the Cybermen have been a simple silver horde devoid of emotion that march and destroy. Those Cybermen were the Mondasian models (which we haven’t seen since Silver Nemesis), and the revival era added the extra layer of assimilating people upon the introduction of the Cybus Cybermen in Rise of the Cybermen, which have been the standard until this effective reboot.

Here, we get a new vision of the menace with the Cyberiad, which draws the Cybermen that much closer to the Borg Collective of the Star Trek universe. It pretty much makes a third line of Cybermen, ignoring the Pete’s World parallel universe while conveniently sidestepping the Mondas origins with all new over-the-top superpowers like super-speed and the ability to convert different species.

It’s something unique to Doctor Who but it hews far too closely to the vastly overused Borg. The same holds true for the Cybermats evolving into the Cybermites, critters that easily parallel the nanoprobes used to assimilate pretty much anything in Star Trek.

Similarly, the return of the Cyber-Planner – last seen in The Invasion – is a great touch, as is the back-and-forth battle inside the Doctor’s mind, but the Collective-esque Cyberiad consciousness reduces this villain to a Doctor Who version of the Borg Queen. The story also takes away their gold weakness – another Borg parallel as the collective adapts – leaving guns as the only efficient way to destroy them. I liked the creative way of attacking the Cybermen with electrified moats and such, but in the end, our heroes were left with guns and bombs to end the threat.

It might be that the Borg were so overused (and effectively neutered) in the latter days of the Berman/Braga era of Star Trek, but the “Mr. Clever” appellation threw it over the top for me. Too much of the Steven Moffat era focuses on clever this and clever that and clever everything else, and this was putting a clever flag on the annoying mountaintop.

Steven freaking clever Moffat, man…

Now, this story wasn’t all terrible. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed Matt Smith’s back-and-forth acting battle. It adds another title to the list of times when the actor playing the current Doctor also played a different character in the same story. (The Chase, The Massacre, The Enemy of the World, The Android Invasion, Meglos, Arc of Infinity, The Caves of Androzani, Journey’s End, The Almost People, and The Wedding of River Song came before this one.)

I also was quite pleased with Clara taking a larger role with the Doctor’s blessing and trust, which was refreshing after a long run of not fully trusting his companion. It was a neat development to have one of the kids being observant enough to solve the puzzle, and marked one of the few times that children have traveled in the TARDIS. Finally, I loved seeing the Emperor hiding (taking a break?) among the ranks of a troubled army unit.

Warwick Davis is a fantastic actor – The Star Wars universe (canon and Legends at this point), Willow, the Harry Potter franchise, Merlin, and so on – and it was great to see someone other than the standard boring regal fare as a respected and adored emperor.

But the unnecessary evolution of the Cybermen into the Borg was a step too far for me.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #246: The Crimson Horror

Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror
(1 episode, s07e11, 2013)

Timestamp 246 The Crimson Horror

Pulpy sci-fi disease horror fun.

Yorkshire, 1893, is the source of a mysterious condition that leaves victims preserved like statues with red skin. The incidents – the Crimson Horror – are occurring with a startling degree of foretelling by Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower, and one of the mysterious deaths leads to an investigation by the Paternoster Gang.

Madame Strax is particularly interested in the case upon learning that the Doctor’s image is visible in the victim’s eye, presumably as the last thing he saw before death.

The investigation leads the Paternosters to Sweetville, the idyllic community run by Mrs. Gillyflower and her silent partner Mr. Sweet. Gillyflower lectures on the decay of modern society and treats the community as a home for the chosen few who will survive the coming apocalypse.

Jenny goes undercover as a convert in this puritanical cult and gains access to Sweetville, which is where she finds the Doctor chained in a cell but only partially afflicted by the Crimson Horror since he’s not human. The Time Lord was saved as a reject by Gillyflower’s blind daughter Ada who treats him as her pet monster.

Meanwhile, Madame Vastra continues her investigation from the outside and realizes that she’s seen symptoms similar to the Crimson Horror in the past. Sixty-three million years in the past.

Jenny is able to rescue the Doctor and take him to a strange rinsing cabinet. He activates the device with his sonic screwdriver and emerges in manic joy, thanking Jenny profusely for her help. He also tells her that they need to find Clara Oswald, which confuses Jenny since she saw Clara die months earlier.

The Doctor and Clara arrived sometime earlier. They had intended to visit London but landed in Yorkshire instead just in time to investigate the Crimson Horror (with a slight jab at Tegan along the way). The Doctor and Clara posed as a married couple in order to infiltrate Sweetville, but Mrs. Gillyflower eventually found them out. The process worked on Clara but not on the Doctor. The victim who saw the Doctor before death broke into his cell and died at his feet.

The Doctor and Jenny locate Clara and reverse the process, during which the Paternoster Gang infiltrates the community. Clara is introduced to Jenny and Vastra, after which Vastra tells everyone about a red leech that the Silurians considered a threat in their era. The Crimson Horror is a derivative of that leech’s poison, which Mrs. Gillyflower plans to spread over England with a rocket. The source is Mr. Sweet, a red leech attached to Mrs. Gillyflower’s chest.

The Doctor locates Ada and consoles her after Mrs. Gillyflower rejects her. We also learn that Gillyflower used Ada as a guinea pig to perfect the recipe. Ada and the Doctor confront her mother while Clara disables the rocket launch controls. Gillyflower takes her daughter hostage at gunpoint and activates secondary launch controls, but is defeated since Vastra and Jenny have removed the poisonous payload.

Gillyflower tries to shoot the Doctor, but Strax shoots at her and forces her to fall to her death. The leech abandons its dying host and Ada brutally kills it with her cane. The Doctor, of course, had wanted to return the creature to the Jurassic era. Ada decides to make the best of her life while the Paternoster Gang locks the venom away in their vault.

The Doctor returns Clara to the 21st century where she discovers that the children she cares for, Angie and Artie Maitland, have been doing a little research. They have found photos of her and the Doctor throughout history, including one of her in Victorian London, and threaten to tell their father that their nanny is a time traveler.

That is, of course, unless she takes them for a ride in her time machine.


Despite the simple plot, I love this story for its pulpy sci-fi nature. This is pure creature-feature disease horror and you can tell that the production team had a ball playing with all of those tropes, especially the pseudo-scientific trope of optography, which we last saw on Doctor Who when the Fourth Doctor mentioned it in The Ark in Space.

I love seeing the Paternoster Gang in action – I’m still holding out hope for a future spin-off series for them – and adored seeing Jenny take the wheel for this investigation. I’m also happy to see some continued evolution of Silurian history.

I will say that the Thomas Thomas (Tom Tom) GPS gag hasn’t aged well. Tom Tom still exists, but Apple and Google certainly have that market cornered for everyday utility. While watching this episode for the first time since it aired nearly a decade ago, it took me a minute to put those pieces together.

Among the nods to Doctor Who mythology, this story was brimming with classic era callbacks including Tegan’s quest to get to Heathrow, “Brave heart”, and the John Smith alias. I’m also quite engaged with the prospect of Clara’s charges finding her throughout history, courtesy of the internet of course, which calls back to the whole “whoisdoctorwho” found in Eccleston’s run.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the guest stars. Real-life mother and daughter Dame Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling were magnificent in their roles. I’m not as familiar with Rachael Stirling’s work, though a glance at her IMDb entry tells me that I have seen her around. Dame Diana Rigg’s work is more familiar – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Avengers, Victoria, and Game of Thrones, just to scratch the surface – and it was painful to lose her in September of 2020.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Nightmare in Silver

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Sacheen Littlefeather

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Sacheen Littlefeather
April 11, 2022

With the recent Oscars scandal on everyone’s mind, I decided to dig into a different time when the Academy was shaken up. This week, I’m thinking about Sacheen Littlefeather and her protest at the 45th Academy Awards.

Before talking about the actual protest, however, it’s important to think about the context. Between February 27 and May 8, 1973, approximately two hundred Ogala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (known as AIM) seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The grievances were twofold. First, they were protesting the failure of the Ogala Sioux Civil Rights Organization to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson on charges of corruption and abuse of opponents. Second, they protested the United States government’s failure to fulfill treaties with Native American people. To that point, they demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations in the hopes of finding fair and equitable treatment of Native Americans.

The siege was a long time coming, fueled by decades of Native American mistreatment and misrepresentation by the United States. Symbolically, the site was chosen for its historic value, having been the same place where three hundred Lakota were massacred by the United States Army on December 29, 1890.

The siege lasted for 71 days and resulted in two deaths, several wounded, and one missing civil rights activist. The events buoyed Native Americans and supporters, motivating widespread public sympathy as the country became more aware of the injustices related to Native Americans. Among those supporters was Sacheen Littlefeather.

Born Marie Cruz, Sacheen Littlefeather was the daughter of a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father and a European American mother. She found her voice as a Native American activist during the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz that began in 1969 and began to explore her heritage. 

She contacted Marlon Brando, an AIM supporter, and established a relationship with the actor through his interest in Native American issues, including treatment in Hollywood.

Native Americans in Hollywood are typically fictitious stock characters and stereotypes. They are often portrayed across the range from violent barbarians to noble and peaceful savages, and they were often whitewashed in the heyday of the Western film genre by placing white actors in redface. Native Americans in Western films were often cast as a mysterious villainous horde, and it wasn’t until 1950’s Broken Arrow that Native Americans started being seen sympathetically in film. The tide turned in the 1990s toward explorations of the depth and complexity of Native tribes, but 1973 was a completely different story.

The favorite film at the 45th Academy Awards was The Godfather, tied with Cabaret at ten nominations, and Marlon Brando was expected to win the Best Actor award for his performance. He decided to boycott the ceremony and sent Sacheen Littlefeather in his place with a 15-page speech to explore their shared grievances. She arrived in an Apache buckskin dress minutes before the award was announced, accompanied by Brando’s secretary, Alice Marchak, and was told that she had 60 seconds to deliver the speech or she would be removed.

She ascended the stage, turned down the award with an upraised hand, and improvised.

Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I’m Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently, because of time, but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me…

At this point, she was interrupted by both boos and cheers from the assembled audience, but she carried on.

…and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening, and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando.

According to an interview with The Guardian, she was almost forcibly removed by actor John Wayne, but he was restrained by six security guards. John Wayne made a career in the Western film genre as the stereotypical Hollywood cowboy and his racism, homophobia, misogyny, and disdain for social programs were well-known, especially from his 1971 interview with Playboy magazine.

In part:

With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. […] I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

Littlefeather’s speech did not go well with the industry or certain fans. Later that night, Littlefeather was mocked by both Raquel Welch and Clint Eastwood as they presented other awards, and her appearance prompted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to eliminate the use of proxy acceptance of awards in the future. Backstage after her presentation, people were making stereotypical Native American war cries and miming the tomahawk chop in mockery.

The media published several false stories in an attempt to discredit Littlefeather and her heritage, and when she visited Brando’s home after the ceremony, bullets were fired into his front door. But, with Brando’s 15-page speech shared with the New York Times, attention was focused back on Wounded Knee. The media blackout of the siege was lifted and the world’s eyes were opened.

Coretta Scott King called Littlefeather to thank her for the speech. She was also cited as the inspiration for Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott of the 87th Academy Awards in 2014 for lack of diversity in nominations.

After the Oscars scandal, Littlefeather traveled the world and received a degree in health with a minor in Native American medicine. She spent her life involved in Native American activism, including co-founding the National American Indian Performing Arts Registry and the American Indian AIDS Institute of San Francisco. 

Despite being the butt of racist and misogynist jokes to this day, she has lived up to the promise she made to herself that she would break barriers and live an interesting life.

In 2018, she announced that she had developed Stage 4 breast cancer. In a mid-2021 interview, she revealed that the disease had metastasized to her right lung and that she was terminally ill.

The Academy Awards are often nights of glitter and glamor, typically viewed as an opportunity for Hollywood to toot horns (or slap faces) in extravagant self-indulgence. But with millions of eyes and ears on the annual ceremonies, sometimes messages including climate change, equal pay, and voting rights take center stage. It’s a trend that I support given the spotlight and audience that these often well-educated celebrities command. They are far from mere monkeys paid to dance for our enjoyment.

In 1973, at what is known as the most controversial Oscars ceremony on record, the spotlight was placed on Native American rights. I hope history remembers Sacheen Littlefeather and her courage as she faced down an entire entertainment industry for what she believed in.


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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: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022

Debrief: ATL Comic Convention + Fandemic World Tour Atlanta 2022
Atlanta, GA – March 18 through March 20, 2022
ACCFandemic

Atlanta Comic Con was (shall we say?) interesting.

As mentioned in my announcement post, Atlanta Comic Con joined up with the Fandemic World Tour to create an earlier and larger event. It’s typically been a smaller affair with various celebrities and fan panels, but linking up with Fandemic brought a bit more star power to bear.

Honestly, I think that it dampened some of the spirit. More on that in a minute.

I teamed up with Mike Faber and Michael Gordon of The ESO Network for three panels – Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Podcasting 101 – and took some time around those events to take in what this new convention experience had to offer. In fact, that’s what Fandemic offers on their website: Fandemic Tour – A New Comic Convention Experience.

ACC 2022 Panels

The panels were pretty awesome. The Podcasting 101 panel was very interactive and well-attended for the size of this convention. We had a lot of input from the audience and spent some time afterward chatting with people who wanted to learn more.

Mike Faber and I have been doing these 101-style panels and classes for a while, and my metric for success has always been that if even one person learns something new, then we’ve done our jobs well. The Atlanta Comic Con panel went above and beyond that measure.

The Doctor Who panel was also pretty engaging with a lot of questions and speculation, and the hour pretty much flew by. The MCU panel was quite a bit less engaging, and a lot of that can be attributed to the timing. When we did a similar panel at Atlanta Comic Con, it was right after Infinity War so there was a lot to talk about. If we had done this in July as planned, we’d also have a lot to talk about, but doing this panel right now leaves us in the infancy of the MCU’s Phase Four with a whole lot of questions and not much else.

But, overall, the panels were fun.

So, the rest of the convention…

The rest of the convention is where I feel like the spirit of Atlanta Comic Con has been lost. Fandemic is geared toward the fans and genre of The Walking Dead, and that does not lend itself to a general sci-fi/fantasy kind of event like Atlanta Comic Con has been.

The vendor booths were geared more toward the genre and toward the general fan. There were very few comic and book booths and very few specialized toy booths. There were a lot of vendors who specialize in Funko Pops, but even the offering they brought leaned heavily into the Fandemic genre. In fact, it’s disappointing to note that I wasn’t tempted by a lot of the offerings.

There were a handful of artists with tables, but they weren’t engaged with attendees. In fact, one interaction that I saw was telling: The artist physically walked someone through his portfolio because the name was familar in passing but the attendee had no idea who he was beyond that.

This felt like a convention for people at the 30,000-foot view. Fans who have a general idea of what’s out there, but aren’t specific on any one thing. Don’t get me wrong: That level of fandom is perfectly okay, but it didn’t feel like there was much engagement for anyone on a deeper level.

It’s also a celebrity-heavy event with a ton of space dedicated to photos and autographs, but only for the genre. Lines for photos and signatures were packed, which is good for fans who dig that, but I certainly missed the old-school/retro caliber of guests that Atlanta Comic Con used to attract. 2019’s show brought a variety of actors and talent – Cam Clarke, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, Rob Paulsen, James Arnold Taylor, and Bonnie Wright, just to name a few – and I expected this variety to be mixed into the Fandemic attractions a bit more. Instead, it was all pretty much Walking Dead and similar.

It felt like Atlanta Comic Con was completely replaced by Fandemic.

The entrance fees for normal attendees were a bit shocking: $50 or $60 per day on the weekend and $85 for a three-day pass. That’s not something that attracts someone who’s interested for the day. I don’t have historic information for Atlanta’s show, but the similar convention in Tampa Bay runs $20-30 per day with a $45 three-day pass, and that’s with guest lists similar to Atlanta Comic Con’s previous offerings.

I was also surprised that there was no program of events being distributed. Atlanta Comic Con used to offer a poster with a schedule of events. On that note, the schedule of events wasn’t even solidified until a couple of days before the show, which is something I’d expect from an extremely large five-day event like Dragon Con, but not from a three-day lightly attended event like this.

I don’t want to see Atlanta Comic Con become absorbed into something else.

With the loss of so many smaller conventions in the area due to money and staffing concerns, we need conventions and events for people who want to get together and celebrate pop culture.  If this was truly a merger instead of a takeover, I’m hoping that 2022 was simply growing pains leading to something bigger and better.

I don’t want to lose Atlanta Comic Con’s unique voice in the process.

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Timestamp #245: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
(1 episode, s07e10, 2013)

Timestamp 245 Journey Centre TARDIS

If the TARDIS gets illegally salvaged but no one remembers, did it actually happen?

In the depths of space, a Van Baalen Bros. salvage ship cruises as brothers Bram and Gregor sleep and android Tricky works. The proximity alert sounds as the ship detects nearby salvage, and after a brief debate over the salvage’s value, they decide to suit up and check it out.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Clara argue over her bonding with the TARDIS. The Doctor decides to put the time capsule in basic mode to make it easier on her, but the TARDIS loses power and shields just as the salvage crew latches onto her. Sparks fly and Clara burns herself on a rolling metal object before the capsule is pulled into the salvage bay.

The salvage crew attempt to break into the TARDIS but fail. Tricky realizes that the ship is potentially alive and crewed, and as the crew attempts to cover their tracks, the Doctor pops up and greets them. He presents them with the metal object, an illegal Magno-grab remote, and then realizes that Clara is still inside the TARDIS.

Oops.

Clara awakens to the sound of the Cloister Bell in the middle of a debris-strewn corridor. She comes to a door with a red light and decides to open it. She then runs from the fireball behind it. She hears a growling noise and continues on, looking for the console room but eventually taking refuge in a storage room with a baby’s cot, a small model of the TARDIS, and the Seventh Doctor‘s umbrella. She soon runs when the creature appears.

The Doctor leads the salvage crew into the TARDIS. While they marvel at the space within, the Doctor evacuates the toxic atmosphere from a fuel leak and gives them one hour to find Clara. Why one hour? Because he’s just set the self-destruct sequence.

When the salvagers protest, he adjusts the timer to thirty minutes. He is that dead set on finding Clara.

Clara runs past the observatory and the swimming pool as she tries to avoid the growling, eventually finding the expansive library. Meanwhile, Bram returns to the console room and starts stripping the place, but stops when he hears a cacophony of voices. Gregor scouts and finds the architectural reconfiguration system. The Doctor prevents him from tearing it apart, but when Gregor steals one of the circuits, the TARDIS begins to rebel.

Clara investigates a tome called The History of the Time War, marveling over the mention of someone before hiding from the growling creature once again. She knocks over a bottle/volume of the Encyclopedia Gallifreya, releasing a cloud of spoken words, before running into the corridor once again.

The Doctor, Gregor, and Tricky continue their search but the TARDIS keeps running them in circles. Meanwhile, Bram descends into the console as Clara enters the console room but determines that it is a fake. Bram burns himself on the time rotor and falls to the deck below before being attacked by the creature. The Doctor and the remaining salvagers evade the creature as Gregor splits off on his own.

Clara continues looking for the real console room and gets frustrated. The Doctor and Tricky enter one of the console room echoes – the TARDIS rewarded Tricky for trying to get her circuit back – and determine that they are in the same space as Clara but are just out of phase. Clara inadvertently allows the creature into the echo room as Gregor returns, and the Doctor uses Gregor’s scanner to isolate and rescue Clara.

The Doctor reveals that there is no self-destruct sequence, so they’re safe except for the monster and the TARDIS realigning the internal geometry. Well, that and the pending engine overload from previously undetected damage.

To fix it, they must descend into the center of the TARDIS. And there’s the title!

The team runs through the corridors and Clara is separated. She sees echoes throughout her travels and words appearing in the burns on her hand, but eventually reunites with the Doctor. He tells her that there is a time leak due to the engine damage, so recent past and future are flowing around them. They run from the creature and the rods from the overloading engine.

When Tricky is impaled by one of these engine rods, Gregor is forced to reveal that Tricky is really a human – his own brother – that they modified to look like an android as a cruel joke. After rescuing Tricky, the group arrives at the Eye of Harmony, an exploding star on the verge of becoming a black hole. The Doctor rushes in while the humans wait and the brothers hash things out. The brothers almost come to blows before the Doctor reminds Tricky that Gregor has at least one shred of decency left.

They all try to navigate the chamber containing the Eye of Harmony but end up trapped by the creatures. Gregor scans them and discovers that the creatures are burned, future versions of them. The Doctor confesses his remorse about Clara’s pending death and her previous deaths, confusing her as he lets the creatures invade the chamber in an attempt to break the temporal loop. The brothers succeed in knocking the creatures into the Eye of Harmony, but when Gregor saves Tricky from falling, time reasserts itself and the brothers become a new creature.

Clara and the Doctor rush into the engine room, which presents a vast canyon, and the Doctor confronts Clara over her nature. Clara has no idea what he’s talking about, a concept that relieves the Doctor. He then realizes the image of a canyon is a defense mechanism and convinces Clara to jump over the side with him. They land in a stark white chamber filled with the engine explosion in progress. When he glances at Clara’s hand – it says “BIG FRIENDLY BUTTON” – he realizes what he needs to do.

They return to the console room where the Doctor inscribes the message on the Magno-grab remote. The Doctor tells Clara that she won’t remember any of this adventure if he’s successful, including finding his name in the big book, and launches into the rift in the console room wall. He throws the remote to his past self, who laughs as he smacks the big friendly button.

Time resets to the moment before the salvagers caught the TARDIS, but this time they ignore it. Their family relations are also significantly better. Meanwhile, the Doctor is concerned about Clara’s feeling of safety. She tells him that everything is fine and urges him to push the button and take them to their next stop.


The birth of this story is what happens when fans take control of production. Steven Moffat was disappointed in how the TARDIS interiors looked when he saw The Invasion of Time as a child, so he challenge this episode’s writer, Steve Thompson, to make it better. Mission accomplished on so many levels, taking viewers on a whirlwind tour of the library, the observatory, the swimming pool, the Arch-Recon (architectural reconfiguration system), and the Eye of Harmony. We also get to see just how many treasures the Doctor holds in his time capsule, including knowledge in liquid form and the history of the Time War.

I’d really love a copy of that prop. It appears to be based around a late 19th-century leather-bound Bible with brass clasps. Copies of that book run into the hundreds of dollars as of this writing.

I really liked how the TARDIS wounds translated into time leaks, creating bubbles of tangible potential timelines that could only interact with each other in very special circumstances. The TARDIS’s memories that flooded her control room came from An Unearthly Child (twice), Colony in SpaceThe Doctor’s WifeThe Robots of DeathRoseSmith and JonesThe Beast Below, and Time Crash.

This leakage also played into another core Doctor Who trope: Being kind reaches across time and space. The “joke” that the brothers played on Tricky was cruel and unnecessary, but the Doctor’s admonishment of Gregor that questioned the human’s decency stuck with the family through the time reset.

Oh, and that self-destruct hoax? If a good gag works, why change? (See Attack of the Cybermen and Victory of the Daleks.)

In the end, the Doctor finally puts the mystery of Clara being a bad agent of some sort to bed. Even if Clara doesn’t remember the discussion, it’s good to know that the Doctor can finally move on from the who to the why.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Crimson Horror

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Eat the Hot Dog!

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Eat the Hot Dog!
April 4, 2022

This week, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track celebrates the Shaq attack with the 25th anniversary retrospective of Steel.

On March 31st, the panel of Michael Bailey (Fortress of Baileytude), Keith DeCandido (decandido.net and wherever fine books are sold), and Shaun Rosado (pneumaz on Twitter) joined Gary Mitchel to celebrate hammer time and John Henry Irons in the era of cheesy superhero flicks.

The bonus material in this panel – the panelist celebrate April Fools a few hours early with Leigh Tyberg, ToniAnn Marini, Kyle McCraw, Darin Bush, Denise Lhamon, and their furry companions – was a hoot to see develop behind the scenes. Michael Bailey has wanted to do a Steel panel for a good long while, and Gary, Darin, and I mused about this after the Harry Potter panel back in January. Darin suggested selling it as a Steel panel, but having everyone show up with their pets instead as an early April Fools gag. As we laughed about it, Gary split the difference and decided to give audiences both.

You’re welcome. *wink*

(I would have been there with Charlie and Jango if I could have been. Next time.)


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or 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.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next panel will be on April 14th, when the Classic Track Irregulars will discuss the 40th anniversary of Remington Steele. You can find all of this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

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 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.

STEAM Saturday – Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal

STEAMSaturday

STEAM Saturday
Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal
April 2, 2022

In this edition, we have a quiet fortnight with an Artemis I wet dress rehearsal in headlines and a lot of fun in the videos.

STEAMHeadlines

NASA – NASA Readies Rocket for Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal (Mar 17, 2022)
Engineers will conduct the final test, known as the wet dress rehearsal, of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, Orion spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems before the Artemis I launch at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The two-day test is underway now.


STEAMSci

The Science & Entertainment Exchange – The Science & Entertainment Exchange is a program of the National Academy of Sciences that provides entertainment industry professionals with access to top scientists and engineers to help bring the reality of cutting-edge science to creative and engaging storylines.

Be Smart – A PBS Digital Studios science show hosted by Dr. Joe Hanson (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology).

Physics Girl – Hosted by Dianna Cowern, a science communicator and physics alumna from MIT, this show was part of PBS Digital Studios until 2020. She uses her platform to explore complex physics, astronomy, and science-related topics in simple terms.

 


STEAMTech

Today I Found Out – Today I Found Out is a place to learn something new and interesting every day, brought to the internet by a host of various scientific contributors.

 


STEAMEng

Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.

 


STEAMArt

Nick Zammeti – A woodturner and artist based in the United Kingdom, Nick Zammeti thrives in funky and creative projects fueled by a healthy love of pop culture, especially Back to the Future.

 


STEAMMath

Alex Yard & Knuckles – Enjoy some video game music theory videos with Alex Yard.


STEAMMulti

Frank Howarth – A Portland, Oregon based architect and woodworker, Frank Howarth uses stop-motion animation to demonstrate his design and building process for a variety of projects and art pieces.

Glen and Friends – Glen and Julie Powell of Toronto host this look into recipes from the Depression Era, including if those recipes still work or can be improved in the modern day. It’s a great look into history and how cooking is both science and art.

I Like To Make Stuff – Bob Clagett likes to make stuff, whether it be home renovations, fixing up a vintage car, or building an astromech droid.

 


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. If your suggestion is used, your name will be credited.

Disclaimer: Please note that any sponsored content or advertising presented in videos and/or links highlighted in STEAM Saturday are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Creative Criticality. Pursue such content and offers at your own risk.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.

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STEAM Saturday is a celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

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

Timestamp #244: Hide

Doctor Who: Hide
(1 episode, s07e09, 2013)

Timestamp 244 Hide

A ghost story?

The mystery begins at Caliburn House. It is November 25, 1974, and is the fourth night of Professor Alec Palmer’s attempt to contact an apparition with his psychic assistant Emma Grayling. As they make another attempt, they are interrupted by a knocking at the door. When they answer, they find the Doctor and Clara who claim to be Ghostbusters.

The Doctor poses as an agent of “the Ministry” and claims to know who Alec (a secret war veteran) and Emma are. Photographs by the professor show the same figure in the same pose throughout the history of Caliburn House. The travelers tour the house and get to know the investigators. They also examine the history of the “Witch of the Well” and encounter the ghost.

The Doctor talks with Alec while Clara and Emma share a drink. Alec researches ghosts to avoid the horrors he experienced in wartime, while Clara suggests that Emma and Alec could have a relationship.

After the encounter, the Doctor and Clara return to the TARDIS – She’s like a cat: A bit slow to trust – and take a series of photographs of the ghost throughout Earth’s timeline. Clara laments that she is nothing more than a ghost herself in the Doctor’s eyes, asking what humans are to him. He tells Clara that human beings (or maybe Clara herself?) are the only mystery worth solving.

The Doctor returns them to 1974 and analyzes the series of photographs and Emma consoles Clara, who is disturbed by seeing the end of the world. The Doctor speculates that the ghost is really a time traveler – Hila Tacorien – who is trapped in a pocket universe. Unfortunately, the pocket universe is collapsing and Hila is being chased by an unknown creature.

The Doctor tells Emma that she is the beacon that will lead Hila home. He uses a crystal from Metebelis III connected to a subset of the Eye of Harmony to enhance Emma’s abilities and create a doorway to the pocket universe. The Doctor dives into the pocket universe and locates Hila. He’s able to send her home but ends up trapped himself.

Alec has been apprehensive about Emma’s role in this affair, but to rescue the Doctor he encourages her to try one more time, finally admitting that he loves her. Emma tries to open the portal as Clara rushes to the TARDIS – the time machine sounds the Cloister Bell in alarm – and argues with the voice interface.

She’s annoyed that the voice interface looks just like her, but she soon convinces the TARDIS to break into the pocket universe and rescue the Doctor.

With the crisis abated, the Doctor reveals that he brought Clara to Caliburn House to see Emma, curious about what the psychic senses about his companion. Emma can’t detect anything strange about Clara. The Doctor doesn’t seem entirely pleased with the answer, but he decides that it’s time to move on.

As he and Clara are about to depart, the Doctor reveals that Hila is Emma and Alec’s future descendant. Hila can’t return home since history says that she’s gone missing, but she can remain with Emma and Alec. When he suggests that the two lovebirds hold hands and never let go, he realizes that the creature in the pocket dimension has been trying to reunite with another creature in the house.

After another brief trip to the pocket dimension, the Doctor reunites the creatures and promises to take them to a safe place. It seems, in the end, this was not a ghost story.

It was a love story.


I really like the story overall. We get another discussion of jumping from one universe to another, as well as a refresher on entropy draining the TARDIS power supply. Circle back to the Pete’s World trip for that connection. I also liked the twist, making us think once again about whether or not every creature is an enemy.

The parallels to Ghost Light, The Eternity Trap, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang were a nice touch, as was the decorative headgear: The device used to connect Emma to the Eye of Harmony is very close in design to the one that the Second Doctor used to show his thoughts to Zoe in The Wheel in Space.

We get another dose of star power with Dougray Scott, a man who has been all over the place and was fantastic here, even if I didn’t recognize him at first. It must be the Clark Kent effect with the glasses.

Hila’s fate was a fun bit of timey-wimey business, but it ends up as an after-thought when the true reason for the Doctor’s stop is revealed. This is where this story falls down in my opinion. The Doctor tricks Clara into being a Caliburn House so that he can use Emma’s skills to divine Clara’s secrets, the plot of which feels squicky. It couldn’t be a simple ghost/love story, but instead had to be another chapter in the Doctor’s quest to unravel the Impossible Girl.

That part of the twist just doesn’t sit right with me.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.