Culture on My Mind – Legally Mars, Syndicated Toons, and a Fresh Prince

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Legally Mars, Syndicated Toons, and a Fresh Prince
July 30, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently talked about aliens, blonde lawyers, syndicated cartoons, and the Willennium.

On July 8th, Chad Shonk, Lola Lariscy, Jonathan Williams, and Nathan Laws took up arms against alien invaders as they chatted about Independence Day and Mars Attacks!

On July 15th, it was time to attend the twentieth anniversary reunion of one of the best Harvard graduating classes ever. After all, once you’ve judged a tighty-whitey contest for Lambda Kappa Pi, you can handle anything. I joined Sue Kisenwether and ToniAnn Marini to talk all about Legally Blonde and it’s impact on pop culture since 2001.

On July 22nd, the stream was a full house as latchkey kids united over a love of syndicated cartoons. GI Joe! He-Man and the Masters of the Universe! Transformers! Star Blazers! Tranzor Z! Voltron! Disney afternoons! Special guest stars included Chris Cummins, Kevin Cafferty, Jeff Burns, Denise Lhamon, and Nathan Laws.

On July 29th, the month came to a close with a story all about how pop culture got flipped, turned upside down by a West Philadelphia (born and raised) rapper and actor who came to dominate the charts as well as the box office: The Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith! Those who got jiggy wit it were Sherman Burris and Jonathan Williams.


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 month of August will hold a couple of panels before the series takes a hiatus for real life panels at Dragon Con 2021. Join us on the journey and, if you’re so inclined, come see all of us in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.

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 New Colossus

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The New Colossus

July 23, 2021

This week, I have Emma Lazarus on my mind.

Emma Lazarus was born on July 22, 1849, in New York City. She studied American and British literature and several languages, including German, French, and Italian. By the age of eleven, she was writing poetry. Over the course of her life her writing won recognition in the United States and Europe.

One of her most famous poems is the sonnet “The New Colossus”, which she wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty (formally known as Liberty Enlightening the World). She was convinced to write the poem by writer Constance Cary Harrison who argued that the statue would be of great significance to immigrants sailing into the harbor.

The sonnet was the first read at the auction of art and literary works in November 1883 and remained associated with the exhibit until it was closed after the pedestal was fully funded in 1885. The sonnet was largely forgotten after this, even at the statue’s formal opening in 1886, until 1901 when Georgina Schuyler stepped in.

Composer and article writer Georgina Schuyler, the great-granddaughter of Alexander and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was a friend of Emma Lazarus. Lazarus died in November 1887 at the age of 38, most likely from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Schuyler spearheaded the effort to memorialize her friend and the sonnet. The effort succeeded in 1903 when a plaque bearing the sonnet’s text was placed on the inner wall of the statue’s pedestal.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Petrarchan sonnet evokes several images related to the statue’s New York Harbor home and prestige:

  • The title and the first two lines refer to the Greek Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and contrasts that symbol of imperial grandeur against the maternal strength of Lady Liberty.
  • The “sunset gates” are the Hudson and East Rivers, and the “imprisoned lightning” is the statue’s lighted torch.
  • The “twin cities” were New York City and Brooklyn, which were separate cities since the boroughs had yet been consolidated. That would happen in 1898.
  • The “huddled masses” were the large numbers of immigrants arriving during the 1880s. Emma Lazarus was also an activist and advocate for Jewish refugees who sought asylum from persecution in Czarist Russia.

The poem changed the face of the statue, shifting her from a monument to the principles of international republicanism to a welcoming mother figure that shined a beacon of hope to outcasts and downtrodden around the world. The symbol has cemented the reputation of the United States as a sanctuary and a golden beacon on the hill.

As poet and Princeton professor Esther Schor, author of the award-winning biography Emma Lazarus, stated: “The irony is that the statue goes on speaking, even when the tide turns against immigration — even against immigrants themselves, as they adjust to their American lives. You can’t think of the statue without hearing the words Emma Lazarus gave her.”


For more information on Emma Lazarus, the American Jewish Historical Society has a detailed presentation on her life and their efforts to memorialize her.

For a general overview of the Statue of Liberty’s history and more, check out this video by Jared Owen.


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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 – Dads and Princes

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Dads and Princes
July 9, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track recently talked about daddies and Robin Hood.

On June 24th, Kevin Eldridge, Leigh Tyberg, Tom Morris, and Elizabeth Jones celebrated Father’s Day by considering quality jokes, sage advice, and removing limbs while talking about the best dads in science fiction.

On July 1st, it was time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of yet another retelling of the Robin Hood mythos. That’s right! Three decades ago, we got a film with action, drama, a spectacular sheriff, and a very questionable accent. Join Darin Bush, Nathan Laws, Jeff Burns, and Deanna Toxopeus as they talk about kitchen utensils, relative pain, and the second-highest grossing film of 1991.

 


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.

Down the road a ways, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track has more of these panels in store, including alien attacks, lawyers, cartoons, and reptile martial artists. Join us on the journey.

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 – Independence Day

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Independence Day

July 2, 2021

This week, I’m thinking about a major holiday here in the United States. The Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It was a pronouncement by the Thirteen Colonies that they should be independent states free of British control, a revolution that they were fighting for at the time in the Revolutionary War.

While the nation is not and has never been perfect, it still embodies certain elements that people around the world admire. For me, the American Dream is that we can reach that ideal some day, and that keeps me fighting for the principles expressed in the Declaration. I believe in the core philosophy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Today, two days before the anniversary of ratification (and on the anniversary of the Lee Resolution’s passage), please enjoy this presentation by Kenneth C. Davis on some of the lesser known facts about the Declaration of Independence.

If you’re celebrating the holiday, please be safe and have a good time.

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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 – Classic Traumas, Robot Mockery, and a Birthday Potluck

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Classic Traumas, Robot Mockery, and a Birthday Potluck
June 25, 2021

The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track confronts its traumas, celebrates the Satellite of Love, and brings the best dishes to dish on Joe.

On June 3rd, Denise Lhamon, Tom Morris, Bobby Nash, Bethany Kesler, and Stormy O’Dell came together to remember when someone once said, “Let’s take the kids to a movie!” How they saw a fox abandoned in the woods. How they watched a giant owl about to eat the mouse lady. How they sat helplessly as a horse struggled in a swamp. The list goes on and on…

On June 10th, the track circulated the panelists as they gathered up their robot buddies and headed into Deep 13. Way back in the not to distant future (next Sunday, AD), a stand-up comedian and inventor came up with the brilliant idea. While there had been movie hosts who mocked their (usually bad) movies, he thought it might be funnier to do it during the movie. Deanna Toxopeus, Jason De La Torre, Nathan Laws, Kevin Cafferty, and Tom Morris took stock of the Mads, the SoL, the riffs, and Nummymuffincoocoolbutter.

On June 17th, it was time for another birthday celebration. Once again, Joe Crowe (somewhat) safely made another sojourn around the sun, and the panel of Lola Lariscy, Kevin Eldridge, and Kevin Cafferty celebrated by bringing random geek topics upon which Joe had no choice but to pontificate about for five minutes. The result might just rival Manimal for the most awesome thing of all time.

 


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.

What lies ahead may be the best dads of science fiction or the question “Why a spoon?”, but to find out, you must come on the journey into American science fiction classics.

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 – 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.

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.