Many things happened today and I will tell you them tomorrow. Many things happened I will never tell you about, because they're simply too boring. What's the standard? Pretty low, obviously. I went to Hunt & Gather and found in the way far back room a stack of women's magazines from the 1930s, all in such perfect condition the pages were snowy white. They are astonishing, if you like typography and design - the sophistication and charm permeates even the lowliest product, as everything seeks to tell you that your life will be just a bit more elegant if you use this soap or try this soup. The range of goods is small; the attention lavished on selling polish is endlessly detailed. You think: well, someone had money.

The cover of one of the issues:

Rather the exact message they'd proclaim a half-century later.

This is brilliant. This . . . is nerd-rage clickbait at its finest.


As they say in Pokemon: she used humor! It's not very effective.

As a troll, it's well-done. Let's have someone who is unfamiliar with "geek" culture describe her reactions to the foundations of modern nerd culture, the keystones of sci-fi, the Geek 101 things about which the fandom culture already has settled opinions. There may be arguments around the margins, but everyone loves "Blade Runner" for all sorts of reasons. The world-building is peerless. The battered, inhabited tech set a standard for how dystopian worlds would be imagined. The movie had noir DNA transplanted into a Phillip K. Dick hallucination, and while Harrison Ford wasn't exactly Bogart, this was as good as he got. It had Heavy Philosophical Think-Things expressed in poetry and resignation at the end. It had a warning: you want your flying cars? Okay this is the world where you get your flying cars.

So. Let's solicit a review from someone who seems cheerfully uninterested in the movie's original context, and riffs off its technological and cultural anachronisms.

You can make fun of this stuff if you know it intimately, and you're funny. To flick it away like a big old booger and do so without knowledge or insight or actual laughs, well, the rage tsunami towers a hundred stories high. Final brilliance: call the series "Geek Awakening," borrowing from Star Wars, and suggesting that this person is not outside of the culture looking in, but a Geek who is Awakening, i.e., one of us gabba hey.

Then sit back and wait for the criticism to prove your worst assumptions about the worst people.

That said, I have no brief with Geek Culture or "fandom" and wish the whole thing would collapse from its pretensions. Some unrelated thoughts:

1. Loving something does not set you apart.

2. Related: Being a "geek" in 2016, in the era of billion-dollar superhero franchises, is not a sign that you belong to a secret superior culture mocked by the outsiders.

3. It's okay for adults to read some comics. It's sad when adults read a lot of comics. Or nothing but. Especially if you're caught up and emotionally invested in some grand multi-title Story that upends everything that was upended three years ago. Remember when the Ultimate Justice League, which came from Earth VI in the universe created when the Green Lantern fell into the Negative Sun of Achneor and released the hordes, and 3 of your favorite characters died and 2 went over to the other side and there was that one dramatic callback to something from a classic 1968 comic all the writers went nuts over because HISTORY TRADITION and so on, and then it ended and it was like, wow, Grendella was really a good witch after all, and we'll always remember how Superman died on the third moon of Ga'al Goth'eh but then came back and destroyed the armada - remember that?

It doesn't matter at all. Next year there will be something else along those lines, and the primary purpose of Geek Culture and Fandom will be evaluating this arc in comparison with the last one. On and on and on; it doesn't matter.

Oh but it does! you say, and I understand; when I read comics, there were plots that threaded through the titles, but there weren't any resets or reboots or alternate story lines. The comics were mythic in the aggregate, not because they were trying to lay out broad grand story for the sake of dragging everyone in to a conflict that just replayed the basics of every other Us Vs The Menace But Also Vs. Us story. (Also I was 13.) But somehow these days, complexity = profundity, and bleakness = depth. Or at least great aching searing drama.

Really? No one ever dies. Well, no profitable character dies. Nothing's at stake. It was, for a while; when Gwen Stacy died, she stayed damned dead, and that was important. Nowadays she'd be back, with Powers.

Of course there are still great comics and if you like them, fine. But what began as a pop-art counter-culture kick - hey, college students are digging these Marvel superheroes with their hang-ups! - turned into a self-justifying excuse for putting up with ornate, baroque comics whose intricacies established geek cred. You liked the Green Lantern movie? Dude? Don't you know how much canon it violated? Don't you know how they ignored the whole arc about the war with the Blackened Smite-Mongers? That's like central to the whole thing

Again, I get this. There are basics the movies should respect. The movies have an obligation, you could argue, to honor the source material. Not just to please the fans, but to shepherd the tale into the next medium, the next decade, the next century. Superman has to come from Krypton. He can't come from Pittsburgh. That's one of the reasons the Fantastic Four bombed: it was Dark 'n' Gritty. The FF is optimistic, with the drama provided by the interactions between the characters. But knowing all the details of these complicated stories is just the equivalent of having lots of Pokemon cards.

These things matter if you read a lot of comics; if you read a few, they don't. They just don't.

So it's possible to have "geek" tendencies without voluminous knowledge of everything geek related; it's possible to love Star Wars without knowing a damned thing about the books and the Extended Universe (especially now that it's all non-canon.) (nelsonmuntz.gif) If someone is interested in the elements of geek culture, give them a hand and welcome them in, and enjoy their fresh perspective even if they don't seem to get what you got so long ago.

4. That said, this person is hopeless.


From a Western stories magazine c. 1934, some of those plaintive messages sent out into the great American void. Where did you go? Why won't you come back?

Before Facebook, there was the back of pulp magazines.

Burton Bowen of Bath begs:


A cowboy artist. A young man - made his way from LA to Florida, then poof. Walked off the edge of the nation into the ocean beyond. Like many of these stories, there's no resolution, but in this case there's something unique:

Everett Ruess (March 28, 1914 – November 1934?) was a young artist, poet and writer who explored nature including the High Sierra, California Coast and the deserts of the American southwest, invariably alone. His fate while traveling through a remote area of Utah has been a mystery for many years.

Late in 1934, Ruess set out alone into the Utah desert, taking two burros as pack animals. He was never seen again.

The only sign that was found of him was a corral he had made at his campsite in Davis Gulch, a canyon of the Escalante. Some think he may have fallen off a cliff or drowned in a flash flood; others suspected he had been murdered.

An unlikely story is that he crossed the Colorado River to the Navajo Reservation, married a Navajo woman, and lived there in secrecy the rest of his life. His mysterious disappearance turned him into a folk hero.

Everett's last letter to his brother, Waldo, said

"... as to when I revisit civilization, it will not be soon. I have not tired of the wilderness... It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty... This had been a full, rich year. I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do."

That's from his wikipedia entry. We have a picture:

More here - including his art. All these years later, and the name - and the work - persist.

Amazon has his works. On Kindle.




Last week we looked at some dilapidated structres in Ft. Dodge, and it might have given you the impression of an empty place with little life or charm left. Shows what you can do when you select certain pictures.

Same city. How's this for America, Perfected?

Same city. Let's wander around with fresh eyes and see what urban delights await in a small Iowa town.

An impressive piece of civic architecture, even though the clock tower is a tad awkward. It doesn't matter; no one notices now, because the old vocabulary isn't spoken aloud anymore.

From some angles it's a fine-sized town. Big enough for intrigue and sin and men who were Important in this town, and struggled against the Other Important men.

The Wahkonsa was built in 1910; it was a popular hotel, and now it's apartments. Not entirely an old-folks home, as with many of these downtown hotels. I always wonder how people feel about living their final act in a place that was once the bustling hotel of their childhood.

Every day you'd pass the counter where people checked out.

And the same goes here, although perhaps the rent's cheaper.

If you're thinking "why, I would be a day's wages that the original structure was 2 stories, and subsequent stories were added in the latter Twenties as economic conditions improved," you'd be a bit richer at day's end.

Some wall-hamburger left over from a demolition or fire.

A story about its possible renovation says:

The Sears building was erected in 1916 to house Prusia Hardware. Sears, Roebuck & Co. occupied the building from 1936 to 1964.

The story says they were considering turning into . . . apartments!


This one has a detail that caught my eye. Which it was supposed to do, of course:

What is this, the Atomic Scientist's Magazine HQ? It's four minutes until the doomsday, when poison gas and death rays will destroy the world!

Well, it's low-maintenance, and right twice a day.

It's actually tolling the 11th hour, which is the time when Elks "pause to give remembrance to their absent brothers."

C'mon, just put the zigzag pattern on the sign. You know that's what everyon's thinking.

Its co-owner died last month. Korean vet, businessman, Hawkeye fan. We tip our hats in his honor.

It's not all picturesque, but always interesting:

Again, you wonder what happened. The white circles are the remains of the glue that held the porcelain or metal panels to the front; the glass blocks suggest it was a bar or a restaurant. It was, you suspect, a happening spot.

We end with a grand dame in her empty days.

I showed a piece of this last week. So many hotels in Ft. Dodge!

Built in 1925; the prime spot for a while, but low-income apartments towards the end, and empty now.

You suspect - you hope - its time will come again.

Old-and-new pictures of downtown Ft. Dodge can be found here, if you wish.

Oh, er, ahem:

That'll do; see you around. Motels below - I got the number of the additions screwed up, so there may be some repeats. It's #14 - 18 today, so feast away.



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