Category Archives: Not-Always-So-Popular Culture

Do They Know It’s Christmas?

My favorite Christmas song – it moves me every time. Sadly, it’s still relevant thirty years later.

 

 

Shadow Puppet Brewing Company – 1st Anniversary Party Today!

I am pleased to announce the first anniversary party of Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, happening TODAY from 11 am to 10 pm at 4771 Arroyo Vista, Suite B in Livermore, California. Hard to believe it’s been a year already! Shadow Puppet is currently one of four craft breweries in the city of Livermore, which is well on its way to becoming a destination for beer drinkers as well as for wine tasters. Shadow Puppet features an amazing variety of beers, and a beautiful, family-friendly tasting room.

The brewery is family-owned and operated by founder Brian Blackburn and by Brewmaster and Master Builder Craig Danielson. Ordinarily I would say you can recognize Craig by his big beard, but since he’s just shaved it off for First Street Alehouse’s Movember Fundraiser, you’ll have to go by this picture instead:

Shadow Puppet Brewing Co. Livermore

Shadow Puppet Brewing Co. brewmaster Craig Danielson, left, and owner Brian Blackburn, right, pose for a photograph at their brewery in Livermore, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group -East Bay Times, February 2, 2017. )

Craig loves to talk beer, so feel free to accost him with your questions and comments.

The anniversary party promises to be a great time and will feature a massive selection of 25 beers on tap, including two barrel-aged beers as well as two newly-tapped firkins! South Smokin’ BBQ will be on site, and “Better Days” will be playing live music beginning at 3 pm. If you can’t make the opening, don’t worry – the taproom is open Wednesday through Sunday; visit the brewery’s website for the current menu and hours: www.shadowpuppetbrewing.com.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

Words Reveal What Masks Conceal: An Essay on Halloween

When I was in the seventh grade, my English teacher assigned us a creative writing project for Halloween. We were to compose short stories, which we would then read aloud before the class, coupled with a competition of sorts in which the students would vote on who had written the best one.

Now in my pre-teen years, I was not what you would term the most popular kid in school. Perhaps it was those horrible “Student-of-the-Month” photos of me hanging in the main hallway, which they somehow always managed to take right after gym when my hair was flying every which way, or perhaps it was the oxford shirts and corduroy trousers in which my mother dressed me because I refused to participate in ridiculous wastes of time like school-clothes shopping. It certainly didn’t help that in addition to being smart and studious, I was also very, very shy, which led many to believe that I was stuck-up. I suppose if you’re naturally adept at making conversation, it’s difficult to understand that other kids might not be.

You can therefore easily picture the scene in the classroom that day: the anxious adolescent girl slouched in her seat, sweat drenching the armpits of her button-up shirt as she watched the clock, fervently hoping that time would run out before her turn came. You can imagine my nervousness when, five minutes before the bell, my teacher called me to the front of the class, the last reader to go; my terror as I stumbled up to her desk clutching the half-sheets of paper on which I’d scrawled my assignment. As usual, I had pushed the limits on the suggested length – my story was at least twice as long as anyone else’s – and the only saving grace of this enforced public humiliation, I thought, was that I would undoubtedly run out of time to finish it before the lunch bell rang.

Tucking my loose hair back behind my ears and focusing my eyes firmly on my papers, I began to read. It turned out that reading wasn’t so bad; unlike giving an oral report, you didn’t actually have to look at any of the other students. And it was a decent story, I reflected as I flipped through the pages, concentrating hard on not losing my place. At least my classmates were sitting silently, which made them easier to ignore.

At last I reached the climax of my tale, which was where it turned gruesome. The main character had gotten trapped in a fire, and I remember describing, in disgusting detail, the sizzle of the hairs frying on his arms as the hot flames neared. I remember describing the flames devouring his flesh, great flaps of it falling from his skeleton as his skin seared away. And I remember the silence of the classroom; I remember it breaking, the moans and groans that swelled all around me as I depicted my main character’s excruciating demise, only to be interrupted by the harsh clanging of the bell.

No one stirred; no one rose; no one left. I glanced at my teacher, who nodded. The other students sat rapt while I finished my story, and they applauded when I was done. There was no question that I had won the contest.

I was pleased that my story had gone over well, of course, but it wasn’t until the following week, when other kids were still coming up to talk to me about it, that I understood that I had somehow made an impression that went beyond my gruesome, graphic horror story. It was as if I had revealed that somewhere beneath that classic nerdy exterior was a real honest-to-goodness person, a kid who thought about things like destruction and death, and flames eating flesh, and how best to describe such horrific events.

I’ve never been big on Halloween, myself. I’ve never liked the pressure of having to pick out a costume and then explain why I chose it; I’ve never even understood the appeal of dressing up and playing pretend. I have other ways of exploring my dark side. Nowadays you won’t find me in a starched, striped shirt, or in old-fashioned slacks, but don’t be fooled by the sweats and sports bra in which you’ll typically see me lounging about the house, because that’s not who I am, either. It’s just a costume; an innocuous mask meant to show nothing, to reveal nothing, to suggest nothing. My thoughts are inside me. They can never be exposed by a mere choice of outfit.

Jack-O-Lantern

 

Essays on Film is a Free Feature Today on Instafreebie!

My eBook Essays on Film: On Viewing Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 21 and The Perfect Filmic Appositiveness of Jack Smith? is being featured this week on Instafreebie!

http://blog.instafreebie.com/see-it-first-lori-schafer-marta-tuchowska-ilias-tsagklis/

Download your copy in any digital format for free!

Essays on Film

 

 

Essays on Film

My eBook Essays on Film is now available for preorder on Amazon. Features the following:

“On Viewing Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 21″”: The search for cinematic meaning in one of the most famous early German avant-garde films.

The Perfect Filmic Appositiveness of Jack Smith”: Impressions of the films of one of cinema’s most eccentric auteurs.

Essays on Film will be available for just $0.99 up through the release date of September 27th.

Essays on Film

 

Kangaroos on the Wing?

Giant inflatable kangaroo from the Aussie Pink Floyd show at the Fox Theater in Oakland on August 29, 2017. Is it just me, or does it seem significantly more evil than Pink Floyd’s inflatable pigs?

Aussie Pink Floyd Kangaroo.jpg