Tag Archives: wedding

Star Wars Weddings and the Outer Rim of Good Taste

Have you ever wondered how much nerdiness is acceptable in your life? How will the other commuters take it when your bumper informs them that your other ride is a Millenium Falcon? How many Star Trek collector’s plates and Suzumiya Haruhi figures can you display in your house before your dinner guests begin to wonder about you? What will the boss say when he finds out you’ve been tele-commuting from a Battlestar Galactica themed case-mod? Some say that it’s a double standard that we nerds hide our ways from the general public, especially when we have to deal with the play-off beards and smelly jerseys of so-called “normal” people. We often forget that until recently, being interested in Science Fiction, Fantasy or Video Games didn’t have the built-in social component that sports always did. We are always fighting the image of the shut-in fan, locked away in his parents’ basement, wearing an ill-fitted “Lum” t-shirt and cat ears, surrounded by moldy towers of comic books, dvds, game discs, or whatever the heck else he’s used to keep himself off the streets. One can avoid running afoul of this unfortunate creature by being alerted to his distinct musk of corn-chips and feet. Granted, the shut-in fan represents a large enough percentage of nerds that he’s become the stereotype. People from all over the nerd spectrum are wondering, how far can we take our interests before we end up like him?

To solve this dilemma, some nerds have taken to letting their geek flag fly at their weddings. What better evidence is there that you like human contact and have left your parents’ basement than promising to spend the rest of your life with a real live human of the opposite sex? That’s the idea on paper, which holds up rather well until you break out the prosthetic  makeup.

Image from Klingon Wedding

Image from Klingon Wedding

Never mind that these guys will have to explain this picture to their future children, how are the bride and groom supposed to appreciate how young they both look under those tire-tread foreheads? I don’t even want to know what they used for centerpieces at the reception. Now, I understand that the mighty Klingon warrior culture can add some military pomp and circumstance to your ceremony, but the focus should be on the happy couple, not on how well the guests wield their Ma’stakas.

After seeing pictures like this, most nerd couples would probably  want to keep their nuptials free and clear of the hobbies that made them so happy and may have even brought them together. However, some nerd theme weddings go a little bit differently, such as this couple from my favorite tropical hotspot, the Philippines.

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If it weren’t for the lightsabers, you wouldn’t know that the groom’s suit was inspired by Han Solo’s jacket from The  Empire Strikes Back or that the bride’s dress combined elements of Princess Leia’s medal ceremony gown and Stormtrooper armor. I showed the photo gallery to Sara, and after reassuring her that we weren’t going to renew our vows this way, she agreed that it walked that fine line between nerd and outcast. Star Wars complemented and enhanced this wedding rather than just taking it over.

Nerdiness has gained increasing social acceptance in recent years. Thanks to the internet, most cities can hold conventions that bring nerds that social interaction generally reserved for sports fans. For me, being a nerd is a wonderful thing. It allows you to appreciate the things you love in popular culture in the most ostentatious way possible. It is an unpretentious an honest way of life. When we find the right way to share this way of life with other people, the results are enriching, fulfilling, and spectacular.

More pictures of K’Allen and Torsha’s wedding can be found here

Star Wars Wedding Gallery found via Toplessrobot.com

The Trip Part 3: De La Salle University and the Bamboo Organ

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Our trip wasn’t all lounging by the pool and enjoying fine home cooking. Sara and I are more of the museum type of tourists, and Judy was happy to oblige us. Our first outing took us to the Museo De La Salle. The first floor contained artifacts from the Spanish Colonial period, like furniture, Catholic shrines, and dresses (including one worn by the infamous Imelda Marcos). There was also a statue of the University’s patron Saint, John Baptist De La Salle. The second floor was a sight to behold. Our tour guide led us through the servant passages of an immaculate reproduction of 19th Century Spanish Patrician’s house. There are a few heritage houses in BC, but they are nothing like this. Every room was decorated from floor to ceiling with ornate paintings and intricately carved furniture. There was an entire Catholic chapel adjacent to the living room where services, weddings and funerals were all held for the Patrician’s family. There were segregated drawing rooms for both the men and the women (Simon opined that the boys must have sneaked in to see the girls room at some point, and vice versa). The dining room contained these massive fans that were waved by servants in an adjacent room via strings. The kitchen itself was large enough to employ a small army. The most interesting part of the house was the servant passages we were taking the tour through. Unlike the inner chambers, they seemed to get the most natural light of all the rooms. There were sliding doors going to all the rooms in the house so that the Patrician’s family would never see the servants. We were told that if a servant made eye contact with a member of the Patrician’s family or their guests, they would be sacked immediately.

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After lunch we were driven to Las Piñas City and the Church of St. Joseph, which contained the world’s only Bamboo Organ. The cool stone church was a welcome refuge from the tropical sun. One of the organ players was on hand to give us a demonstration. The sound was a lot warmer than a metal organ, and there was this interesting mechanism where air was pumped through a pool of water which made a sound like a flock of calling birds. In the basement of the church there was a small exhibit detailing the history of the organ and the church. The construction of the organ was a laborious process, involving burying large bamboo stalks in sand for long periods of time so they would not get eaten by insects before the organ was finished. The tour guide told us that the organ was only around 200 years old, but we said that was okay because it was still older than our own country. There was also a chronology of the Church’s history, depicting its trials through earthquakes, plagues, and war. It was apparent that the Philippines’ recent history had been quite tumultuous, as we would soon see in our tour of the old city of Intramuros.

Parts Of My Geekiness I Am Losing

According to some I should have turned in my geek card the minute I got married. Then again, there are many married geeks, and even my wedding wasn’t completely Star Wars free. However, just as Superman gave up his powers to be with Lois Lane in Superman II, I find I am losing components of my geekiness to the mists of time, such as:

-The ability to be personally offended by following: the Wii’s game line-up, Anime voice acting, Live-action adaptations of comic-books, novels or video games

-The ability to discern anime character designers

-The ability to participate in the eternal Star Destroyer v. Enterprise debate.

-The ability to stomach any Expanded universe Star Wars

-The ability to watch anime all night

-The idea that Freelancing is a romantic occupation of freedom and bad-assery as opposed to paper-work and shaking down clients for money

-The idea that spoilers will ruin any and all enjoyment of a book, movie or TV show

Does this mean that I’m just growing up? Hardly. I still watch Doctor Who and Macross Frontier. I check io9.com about twice a day and I often peruse Hobbylink Japan the way many people would peruse a Jaguar dealership. I still think professional sports is like paying to watch other people have fun. What has changed is how I perceive my free time. As I get older, time seems to move faster. It feels like high school lasted longer than my 20s. I no longer have the luxury of indulging my interests to completion. Delayed gratification has its merit, but not when you’re trying to be entertained. Slogging through a 52 episode series when 26 of those are filler is no way to go through life. In fact, it’s no way to enjoy a series. The same goes for relationships. Make an effort to enjoy yourself and those around you.

Annlee and the Vancouver Art Gallery

Sara and I got a membership to the Vancouver Art Gallery as a wedding present so last Friday we opted to go see an exhibition called “KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art”. The isn’t the first anime/comic themed exhibit at the art gallery. In 2002 there was “The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture” which took a lot of Astroboy, Iron Man, and Ghost in the Shell comics and called it cyborg culture. The link between all of the works was a little tenuous. I found this exhibit to be much more interesting.

On display were the last three Krazy Kat drawings ever made, lots of (very good) independent comic artists like Seth and Daniel Clowes, as well as some Manga Artists that aren’t as well known in the west, like Junko Mizuno and Mamoru Nagano. The animation exhibit displayed clips from Macross, Patlabor, and Satoshi Kon’s Paprika. There was also a display on the history of animation, from Gertie the Dinosaur to Toy Story. The video game exhibit was compiled by Will Wright, creator of The Sims and Spore. It traced the progress of video games throughout the years, starting with Pac-man, going through Super Mario and leading up to Grand Theft Auto and Quake. This was followed by a pop art exhibit containing modern art about comics, animation and video games.

Now, I’ve blogged about the art gallery before, and I wasn’t too happy about how free expression had completely overthrown the idea that you need the talent and craft necessary to communicate the ideas. It’s kind of impossible to do anything in animation or video games without some level of craft but I still had this nagging thought that the exhibitors at the art gallery viewed the abandonment of rules as progress. Works that made less and less sense were being touted as the future of their respective media. Even in the video games, the procedural generation of random worlds was held up as being superior to scripted stories and artistic control. As I walked through the pop art exhibit, I came across a series of works called “No Ghost Just A Shell”, and I had realized that I stepped into the dimension of arrogant intellectuals who had completely missed the point.

“No Ghost, Just a Shell” is the work of two “artists” named Philippe Parreno and Pierre Huyghe. They bought the rights to a character they called “Annlee” from a Japanese character development studio. She was kind of a sad girl with elf ears who probably wouldn’t be able to carry on her own series. They decided to create an exhibit around her. Now, this would have been a good thing if she was in the care of people who could communicate like human beings. Instead she was at the mercy of cold, logical modern artists whose penchant for ambiguity is only outpaced by their arrogance. In kinder life Annlee would’ve been given a backstory, a few doujinshi, maybe someone would even cosplay as her. She would be, you know, loved. Here, in a perversion of the Velveteen Rabbit story, she gets dissected and deconstructed by bunch of euro-trash hipsters who put her in looping video installations speaking gibberish and repetitive pop art posters. The so-called triumph of the work was that the artists got a legally binding agreement that all rights to make works based on Annlee revert back to Annlee herself. However, since no one else can draw her now, she is effectively dead because some self-aggrandizing academic wanted to explore the “idea” of copyright.

The whole thing reminded me of Gulliver’s journey to Balnibarbi, where he found scientists who were so obsessed with analyzing the natural order of things that the land had turned barren from all their absurd experiments. These artists are doing the same thing with the realm of ideas. Slavish devotion to the new and the unique has created a culture where art is irrelevant. The modern art movement was started because the world of art was so detached from people’s lives, but the resulting trend ended up making art today more detached than ever. Soon they will have even lost the ability to shock.

Sara and I left the Annlee installation feeling confused and a little sad for the elf-girl that had gotten mixed up in all this. We passed another video installation called “Cosplayers” by someone named Cao Fei. It was a video of young chinese men and women exploring, fighting, and running through the streets of Guangzhou, China in anime costumes. The plaque near the installation said that the youths in the video were fighting against a society that had disdain for the imaginary, and threatened them with stifling homogeneity. It was a little obtuse, but unlike the Annlee it was actually trying to express something. The costumes were well done, and the contrast to the oppressive buildings in the background was quite neat. It reminded me of how seeing cosplayers at conventions kind of took you out of the mindset of the real world. The work was relatable and I could experience it, instead of just staring at it and trying to fashion Emperor’s clothes for it in my head. If there are more artists out there like Cao Fei, perhaps all is not lost.

Friends, Family, Co-workers, Classmates!

Hello Everyone!

James Strocel here. I’ve just spent the last week compiling the myriad of contact information I’ve gathered over the years. This message is to make sure all of it works. This list is a combination of my family, friends, co-workers at the various jobs I’ve had, and classmates at the various schools that I’ve attended. That being said…

Wow. Look at you all.

There are almost 300 of you in this contact list. I can’t believe I’ve had the privilege of associating with such extraordinary people. You’ve been all over the world, all six populated continents. If any of you out there has done a jaunt to Antarctica, let me know. Some of you have been to Africa to help out. A couple of you are bringing kids home from there. Some of you are at sea. Some of you have served, will serve, are serving in the Military. Some of you are scientists, trying to figure out what’s happening to this planet. Some of you are selling houses, others are protecting them through the fire department. There’s at least one of you in every branch of the media, be it print, film, music, cartoons or video games. There are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and even a few grandparents. Some of you I haven’t always seen eye to eye with. Some of you may even be wondering why I bothered with this e-mail at all. But I guarantee you this: Each and every one of you in some small way has made me who I am. Even the people I have known only a short time. There is nothing without meaning, and so much meaning is yet to come.

Now that the obvious facts are out of the way, let’s get down to business. As you may know, I got married last month to the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. I want to thank again everyone who showed up. The pictures can be seen at

http://www.james-strocel.com/gallery

It may be old news for some people out there, but I’ve received some requests for them after I first posted them on the website, so I’m covering those of you who I may have missed. I have assumed the duties of managing our yearly Christmas letter. If you’re reading this message, you are going to get one in your e-mail. If you don’t want one, please let me know! Don’t just set up your spam filters and think I won’t notice! I’m also trying to set up a mailing list for my blog, so if you actually enjoy hearing me shoot my mouth off please let me know as well. The blog will also contain any important family announcements I may have. I hope all of you are enjoying the weather, wherever you are.Call me up and tell me your life story some time!

Sincerely,

James Strocel