Culture on My Mind – The 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar
January 20, 2023

2022 SW LEGO Advent CalendarIt’s time to talk about the 2022 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar!

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on Star Wars staples. This box leaned on the recently released LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation special.

Despite the Summer Vacation links, however, this set also tied in some holiday cheer and sampled various aspects of the Star Wars library. It started with the prequel era (with a brief nod to The Bad Batch), then hopped into the classic era (with a small bounce into Summer Vacation), before wrapping up with a Santa-themed GNK droid.

The holiday sweater-clad C-3PO and R2-D2 were so much fun to see, as was the beach bum Darth Vader with his snorkel fins and sand castle. The abstract mini-builds were all well done and I adored the ability to hang Luke Skywalker from the Wampa cave. The snowtrooper was a big hit in our household since LEGO took time for representation and gave us a black woman beneath the helmet. That was a great surprise and I hope they have more like them in the future.

Even the basic fillers like a B1 battle droid and a weapons rack didn’t take away from the fun, leaving 2022 with one of the best Star Wars advent calendars in recent memory.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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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 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar
January 13, 2023

2021 SW Marvel Advent CalendarApparently, the latter days of 2021 and early days of 2022 were chaotic. So chaotic, in fact, that I completely forgot to post my summaries of the 2021 LEGO Star Wars and Marvel advent calendars. So, January 2023 will bring you some late (and even later) gifts as I take a look back at four separate calendars.

Last week, I looked back at the 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. In the coming weeks, I’ll cover the 2022 sets for Star Wars and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This week is about the 2021 LEGO Marvel Advent Calendar.

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on franchise staples. The Marvel characters made their debut with this holiday line in 2021, and there was no better way to kick it off than to highlight the Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

At this point, the MCU was settling into what would become Phase Four. The Infinity Saga (Phases One, Two, and Three) ended in 2019 and, of course, 2020 put everything on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of 2021, we had four new films and five new television series to crack open the multiverse concepts that would define the next three phases, but the pandemic had definitely thrown a wrench into plans at Marvel Studios.

Thus, celebrating the Avengers was a strong choice.

The 2021 Marvel-themed box focused on themes and characters from The Infinity Saga, including minifigures for Tony Stark/Iron Man, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Thanos, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and Thor. Those minifigures were also outfitted differently to make them exclusive to this set, which presents a challenge to “gotta-have-em-all” collectors.

The Marvel set differed from the traditions set by the Star Wars sets by building a world for these characters (and kids of all ages) to play in. The scene was set for an Avengers-style holiday party, including presents and decor to compliment the typical abstract micro-builds. It’s a neat concept, but it also comes across as filler in some cases, such as the barbeque grill and present wrapping station.

I did really like the idea of presents, however, particularly how they were linked to each character’s style and cinematic gags. Spidey gets a churro and an arachnid-themed box while Tony gets the arc reactor under glass as proof that he has a heart. I also really enjoyed the helicarrier, Stark robot, and Avengers Tower builds, and the finale with an Infinity Gauntlet was an elaborate one. It came with enough extra Infinity Stones to reenact the paperweight scene from Loki.

It’s a good debut for the Marvel brand, and while I expected something closer to the Star Wars boxes, the world/scene-building aspect isn’t a terrible choice. For every barbeque grill and Christmas wreath, I have to remind myself that children are building these sets with their parents. The fun they have and memories they build together is worth it.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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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 – Where the Drama is Local

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Where the Drama is Local
January 9, 2023

It’s time to talk about the performing arts again. This week, I’m thinking about community theater and a panel discussion courtesy of the Theater and Musical Lovers YouTube Channel.

The channel and its associated Facebook group were established as an unofficial gathering of Dragon Con attendees who love theater, musicals, and the performing arts. Their goal is to create a community of fellow thespians and fans at the convention. This group came together last weekend to talk about community theater and local productions. I mean, sure, Broadway is where everyone wants to end up, but some of the best experiences are homegrown.

When I was in the Navy, I volunteered a couple of times at Playhouse 51 in Millington, TN. That community theater is a non-profit run by volunteers. The theater is housed in the Millington Civic Center, which was once a Baptist church that ended up in the city’s hands. The city offered the space to Playhouse 51 for a $1 annual lease, effectively endorsing it so long as the volunteer force can keep the doors open.

That’s the kind of community that local theater creates.

On January 7th, a group of passionate curtain callers discussed the charms and pitfalls of local theater, along with how to find, join, support, or found your own local theater troupe, and why you should see that show they’re putting on in their uncle’s barn!  Gary Mitchel and Sarah Rose were joined by Greg Bell, Christi Chalmers, and Ell Rhodes to chat about the creativity, passion, and drama that you can find in your own hometown.

Note: Depending on security settings, you may have to click through below to see the video directly on YouTube. You should definitely subscribe to their channel for more updates.


The Theater and Musical Lovers Group will be hosting more of these panels. If you’re interested in participating or have some topic ideas in mind, head over to the group on Facebook and drop them a line

You can find Gary and Sarah on the socials: On Twitter, they are Gary_Mitchel, SarahRose_KPK, and Daisuki_Suu; on Instagram, they are Gary_Mitchel and Daisuki_Suu; and Gary’s horror-themed podcast that he hosts with Erin McGourn is A Podcask of Amontillado. Of course, the Theater & Musical Lovers channel can be found on YouTube.

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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 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
The 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar
January 6, 2023

2021 SW LEGO Advent CalendarApparently, the latter days of 2021 and early days of 2022 were chaotic. So chaotic, in fact, that I completely forgot to post my summaries of the 2021 LEGO Star Wars and Marvel advent calendars. So, January 2023 will bring you some late (and even later) gifts as I take a look back at four separate calendars.

Next week will bring the 2021 Marvel set. After that, I’ll cover the 2022 sets for Star Wars and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This week is all about the 2021 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.

My family has been doing these LEGO advent calendars since 2015 and I chronicle the daily builds on Instagram. Each of the annual box sets has been spotlighted on this site. These boxes contain twenty-four unique small builds, many of which are abstract, along with exclusive mini-figures and whimsical winter-themed spins on franchise staples. The Marvel ones are relatively new to the line, but Star Wars has been a longtime anchor property.

The 2021 Star Wars-themed box was heavy on ships and characters from The Mandalorian, a move that made a ton of sense since that was the big draw for fans on Disney+ starting in 2019. I particularly liked the Razor Crest build, the whimsical multi-day stormtrooper and shooting range setup, the Slave I (the “flying iron”), and the multi-day Grogu/Mandalorian run. Of course, staples like the X-Wing, landspeeder, and Imperial cruiser are nice to have. On the downside, there seemed to be a lot more filler with weapons racks and the like.

Now, on to the countdown:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Day 21

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24


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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 – Lord, Laird, Lady?

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Lord, Laird, Lady?
December 30, 2022

This week, I’m reading about the downfall of a YouTube sponsorship. We’ve all seen the advertisements as we’re perusing our favorite videos – let’s face it, there are a lot of ads on the platform, and the frequency seems to be increasing – and I know that I wondered about the logistics and legalities of owning a square foot of land in Scotland.

I mean, the appeal is pretty big from a novelty perspective. Make a donation, get a certificate, and laugh about being a Lord of Scotland. But how deep does that rabbit hole go? I tried digging into it back in June and landed on an article from Tales of Times Forgotten named No, You Can’t Buy One Square Foot of Land in Scotland and Become a “Scottish Lord”. But the dissent was sparse at that point. I mean, I had no intention of buying in after living through trends like the “buy a star for your loved ones” in the ’90s, and I donated directly to ecological charities and causes to make a difference, but I was certainly curious about how something like Established Titles worked.

YouTuber Scott Shafer cracked the story open recently, and I found out about his work through YouTubers like Pleasant Green and LegalEagle. It certainly has the YouTube community in an uproar as content creators take their various sides and start hurling mud, but at least we have some answers.

No, you can’t buy a small piece of land and earn a title. Yes, companies like this are under investigation for their business practices.

And, yes, they’re pulling their sponsorships and closing ranks, which implies a lot about the case on the whole.

There is more to come on the matter, but I think that these two videos are a great starting point for the logistics and legalities. Both of them sum up Scott Shafer’s original research quite well. Take some time to dive in if you’re interested.

LegalEagle:

Pleasant Green:

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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 Christmas in Pac-Land

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Classic Christmas in Pac-Land
December 23, 2022

This week, I’m thinking about the holidays.

On December 16, 1982, the ABC television network in the United States aired an animated special that was a spin-off from the Pac-Man animated series. That series was conceived from the famous video game and was produced by Hanna-Barbera for Saturday morning cartoon blocks. This series was the first cartoon based on a video game and followed the ’80s trend of making holiday specials based on popular cartoons.

The series is a classic, and therefore is prime real estate for the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track. So, on December 19th, Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by ToniAnn Marini (@Jersey_Devil86 on Twitter), Chris Cummins (@scifiexplosion on Twitch and Twitter), Kevin Cafferty (Gleaming the Tube), and Kevin Eldridge (The FlopCast) for a dramatic reading of this holiday adventure.


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels are typically 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 world wide webs to the track’s 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.

Gary can also be found on A Podcask of Amontillado, a horror-themed podcast that he co-hosts with Erin McGourn.

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.

You can find those discussions 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.

Culture on My Mind – Stick the Landing 2022 with Tee Morris and No Kid Hungry

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Stick the Landing 2022 with Tee Morris and No Kid Hungry
December 16, 2022

This week, I’m thinking about friends, charity, and ending the year on a high note.

Over on Twitch, podcaster, storyteller, and “Twitch Dad” Tee Morris has pledged his channel to a month-long charity drive to help combat child hunger. No Kid Hungry is a campaign run by nonprofit organization Share Our Strength, a group dedicated to solving problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world.

Tee started his campaign this month with the hope of ending a rough year with a major victory for children in need. He set a $1000 goal and his community obliterated it. He now has an unexpected stretch goal of $5000 and has asked his friends and followers to spread the word in the hope of helping as many kids as possible.

If you have the means, please consider donating to Tee’s campaign on Tiltify.

You can find more information about Tee and his work at linktr.ee/theteemonster.

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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 – Theater Nerds

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Theater Nerds
November 21, 2022

Now, for something completely different, let’s talk about the performing arts. This week, I’m thinking about the Venn diagram between theater and pop culture, courtesy of the Theater and Musical Lovers YouTube Channel.

The channel and its associated Facebook group were established as an unofficial gathering of Dragon Con attendees who love theater, musicals, and the performing arts. Their goal is to create a community of fellow thespians and fans at the convention.

On November 18th, the community’s leaders Gary Mitchel and Sarah Rose were joined by Sue Kisenwether (@spaltor on Twitter, Women at Warp), Kelly (@broadwaykelly on Twitter), and Courtney Bliss (website) to chat about why theater is definitely a part of nerd and pop culture.

Note: Depending on security settings, you may have to click through below to see the video directly on YouTube. You should definitely subscribe to their channel for more updates.


The Theater and Musical Lovers Group will be hosting more of these panels. If you’re interested in participating or have some topic ideas in mind, head over to the group on Facebook and drop them a line

You can find Gary and Sarah on the socials: On Twitter, they are Gary_Mitchel, SarahRose_KPK, and Daisuki_Suu; on Instagram, they are Gary_Mitchel and Daisuki_Suu; and Gary’s horror-themed podcast that he hosts with Erin McGourn is A Podcask of Amontillado. Of course, the Theater & Musical Lovers channel can be found on YouTube.

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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 – Lycan Subscribe

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Lycan Subscribe
November 4, 2022

It has been a hot minute since I have written up a segment for this recurring feature, but life has been non-stop since Labor Day. This week, however, I’m thinking about werewolves. Specifically, the favorites of the lycanphiles at the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track.

The term lycanphile may or may not be a real work. Regardless, it’s on the internet now, so it must be true. On October 20th, Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by Shaun Rosado (@pneumaz on Twitter), Sarah Daisy Splitt (@SpiffyKeen on Twitter), Amy Splitt, Sherman Burris (@Nerdburger358 on Twitter), and Lola Lariscy (@LolaLariscy on Twitter) for a little bite at the lore of werewolves (in London and elsewhere).

The panel’s title is courtesy of James Palmer (@palmerwriter on Twitter). I liked the pun, so it’s also the title of this segment. Thanks for the laugh, James!


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels are 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 world wide webs to the track’s 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.

You can find those discussions 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.

Culture on My Mind – Totally True* Tails of Dragon Con

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Totally True* Tails of Dragon Con
August 29, 2022

This week, I’m thinking about the stories from Dragon Con. Some true, some not, and others somewhere in-between.

On August 25th, Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by an all-star cast of characters, including Kevin Eldridge (The FlopCast), Sherman Burris (Nerdburger358 on Twitter), John Hudgens (director, editor, producer), Shaun Rosado (pneumaz on Twitter), Sue Kisenwether (Women at Warp), Cristie Walker-Pettis (hvnslittledevil on Twitter), and Deanna Toxopeus (RevolutionSF) to swap tails tales about the best convention in the history of ever.


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 live at Dragon Con 2022! Like, a whole five days of them! After that, Joe and Gary will take a little break before picking up this series once again. After that vacation, you can find those discussions 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.