Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

Five Things Elaboration

'Tis the season to be talking about oneself. And with good reason! With the "25 Things" thing being so famous as to have been dissed by the mainstream media, it seems that people are just busting out all over to tell relative (or complete) strangers all sorts of semi-intimate details. Well, good. That's what the internet is for: communication. The dangers are vastly outweighed by the potential benefits and (I suspect) both are heavily outweighed by ennui. But I digress.

gamerchick spread a virus: Comment on this post and I'll tell you five subjects/things I associate with you. Then you post them in your lj and elaborate. I'm not sure I can promise to fulfill the viral part and tag anyone else, and if I do I don't promise five, but here are my responses to her:

Shockwave Radio Theater Theater, not re. This was the subject much discussion at the time, and my view prevailed. I didn't want to be Firesign Theatre or anything like that. Indeed, I wanted to be specific in the naming convention: Shockwave was the name of the show and related events, Shockwave Radio was the broadcast part (which included interviews and commentary) and Shockwave Radio Theater was the original sketches and live performances. This, alas, did not hold and with the later arrival of the software Shockwave, the longer name became common just to distinguish us. Not unlike Apple Computers and Apple Records, though not terribly like, either.

I have more to say about it than one (or a dozen) LJ posts, and probably have. Let's just say that Shockwave been a big part of my life, and continues to be. The first fannish show was September, 1979, so it will be 30 years this fall. The broadcast show may reappear on the radio, and I continue to do podcasts and conceptual art under its aegis.

Photography I don't remember being taught to use a camera. Some of the earliest family pictures have me with a brownie, and later an Instamatic. I like taking pictures. Despite the above comments on the radio show, I am often a non-verbal person. Photography and massage are things I can do without saying anything. To the extent that I'm a good photographer, it's from experience and a study of other good photographs. Being a masseur helps: I can (sometimes) tell when a person is going to strike just the right pose. Being a commedian helps: I can (sometimes) anticipate when they'll be at Peak Enjoyment. I like to capture moments, and I like to tell a story with a shot. Sometimes, I have to tell a story with a few shots. That's why many of my galleries will have pictures annotated with see next and such. Yes, one shot should stand alone, but sometimes the sequence tells the larger story.

I keep meaning to write a longer essay on photography, containing a few definitions more suited to the digital era. I probably will. I'm dissuaded by all the other essays on photography. And photography is one of the skill that are very hard to teach but can be learned. That is, reading about it won't help a lot, you have to do it and hone the talent into a skill.

Fanzines Hmm... I'm not sure I know what to say here. For many years, fanzines were an important part of my life. The heirs to fanzines are web sites, blogs and letter columns, and as such are still an important part of my life. I started off my faanish career doing zines on ditto (and occasionally hecto) before graduating to mimeo. Now, developing web sites scratches the fanpubbing itch, and I still do the odd Daily Newsletter or contribute to a dead tree edition but most of my writing is electronic. We've come a long way from what is considered (by some) to be the first fanzine: William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" (self published, using a spoon to spread the ink...).

Fanzines aren't journalism (which is my background) any more than blogs are. But they are no less than blogs, either. You can have journalism (or journalistic standards) in fanzines/blogs, or not. And, all too often, one can claim to have journalistic standards in fanzines/blogs but actually just publish a soapbox rant. There's nothing wrong with soapbox rants; there is something wrong about you being the only judge of the objective nature of your writing. But I digress.

Is this want you wanted to know, Beth?

Fandom and its history Another subject that's far too big for one mini-essay, so I'll just touch on a few personal points. I came into science fiction fandom (aka "fandom" for the purposes of this LJ) just as it was changing from fanzine-dominated to convention-dominated, and slipping from sf readers to media watchers.

Part of the reason I got into the history part of fandom was because many of the people who had started modern fandom were still alive. I knew a bunch of First Fandom, as did almost anyone who went to conventions in the 70s and even 80s. Isaac Asimov, Bob Tucker, Julius Schwartz, Forry Ackerman et al were around to tell their stories and party to generate new stories.

Still, many sub-cultures have fandoms. Possibly all of them. What distinguishes sf fandom from, say, baseball fandom is that sf fandom has a written history and that written history is important. We still have examples of fanzines from the 30s and 40s. Early fans became professional writers and made their stamp on the literature in the field. Maybe Harlan Ellison can put his past behind him; certainly I don't think we can judge his professional work based on his teen writings. On the other hand, he can't completely dismiss his faanish stuff. That's where he came from.

Fandom has it's own set of rules and etiquettes. Some people take these more seriously than others. As a way to share culture with people long gone as well as keep us a little separated from the mundane world, we escape into a set of traditions. That's the fun part.

It's been said by some (and I have the interview around here somewhere) that William Blake was the first fan. He was in a fan group/literary circle who's members moved and formed their own circle, and so on. There is an unbroken line of personal connections between Blake and me. Most fans (especially since the rise of the media conventions in the late 70s) discovered and/or invented their own fandom before finding the larger group, so the traditions and in-jokes have been diluted. Still, it's fun to discourse on the Etymology of "filk" or why we call conventions a "con" or go into long semi-inebriated discussions of whether Yngvi is a louse. (You'd have to be drunk to think that he wasn't...)

And the history continues. We'll probably need a Wiki, though for the moment the essays on Wikipedia will suffice for an overview.

Album and film reviews Oh, I'm an opinionated and erudite critic with a good memory and an audience. I'd probably have a larger audience if I was snarky and said nasty things about bad albums and films, but that's not my style. I want to guide people to the good stuff, not get them to laugh at the bad stuff. Sturgeon's law applies, and it's a great deal easier to say something bad than it is to squeeze something good out of most art. I take the harder, and less lucrative, tack of looking for the silver lining. Oh well.

The hard part is making reviews readable. Let's face it: Most music and/or film doesn't need a lot of commentary. "It's okay. If you liked 'Titanic', you'll probably like this one" or "While not a complete waste of time, you have better things to do. If you liked 'Titanic', you'll probably dislike this one."

Slight digression: Another hard part is to do reviews and not critique. The difference is simple: A Review assumes that your audience hasn't see the movie. A Critique assumes that your audience has seen the movie. I'm generally torn between wanting to explain why I liked the movie and not wanting to spoil anything.

This is less true in music reviews. ("Whoa! That chord change at the end!")

Well, that's altogether too much and yet not enough on five subjects. Yeah, I'm tired too.

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