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Ramadan

Last fall I started a separate YouTube channel after a friend of mine urged me to do so. It’s supposed to be a “professional channel” that’s designed to build my personal brand. He was saying that doing everything that he told me to do would result in my getting hired. He wanted me to start doing book reviews where I would check nonfiction books (preferably with “uplift”) out of the library, read them, and do video book reviews just like what he does on his channel. I also added some videos I did using the MySimpleShow.com platform plus one video that I shot when the local shopping center started playing Christmas music the day after Halloween. (Yeah, that one was strange.)

I started to lose enthusiasm for that channel after the first few tries. I think the problem is that I had created that channel to someone else’s specifications instead of my own, even though it’s supposed to be my channel in theory. I attempted to put my own personal touch by doing this video review for this book I found in the library—a book on the history of 20th century fashion called Dressing the Decades by Emmanuelle Dirix. I enjoyed working on that book review the most because it was on a topic that interested me. While that video review got more hits than the others I’ve done, I decided to stop doing the video book reviews because it wasn’t worth the effort I had put into those video book reviews only to get very anemic responses.

But then last month I got a message through Facebook from Emmanuelle Dirix herself saying that she liked what I did. I was so thrilled with the response that I wrote a blog post about it.

At the same time this happened I had just started reading the latest library book I had checked out. It’s called Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol and it’s Steve Jones’ memoir about his life and career as The Sex Pistols guitarist. I originally had no intention of doing any kind of book review—I just wanted to read it because I’ve been a Sex Pistols fan since I was a teen.

But after hearing from Emmanuelle Dirix about my review of her book, I decided to try doing a video book review of Lonely Boy just to see what kind of response I’ll get from it. I may or may not do more video book reviews depending on the response I get to this one. It takes a lot of effort to make these videos (including using Post-It Notes to mark excerpts that I need to digitally copy, writing a script, and making the video itself).

So, without further ado, here is my video review of Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol written by Steve Jones and Ben Thompson.

Ramadan

I’m devoting this Throwback Thursday post to my wedding day mainly because today is not only what would’ve been my wedding anniversary had my husband not left me for someone else but June 8 falls on a Thursday this year. June is the month that many couples in the U.S. traditionally get married. On top of it this month is LGBTQ Pride Month and I have a wedding-related story that definitely fits with that theme.

A couple of months ago on March 31 I saw a bunch of stories suddenly crop up on my Facebook feed about people speaking openly about either being transgender themselves or having a friend or loved one who is transgender. I didn’t know that the transgender community have been having an International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 since 2009. This year it really took off with all of the testimonials about transgender people and issues. I only wished someone had given me advanced notice because I would’ve told my own particular story then. So I decided to wait until Pride Month to tell my own story.

I grew up being completely ignorant about transgender people. I was raised Roman Catholic and the topic of being transgender was simply never brought up in church. The local public school system never mentioned that topic either in all the years I was a student there. The first person I recalled who actually had sex-reassignment surgery was a British man named James Morris, who became known as Jan Morris after having the surgery. I was a kid then and I thought it was pretty mind-blowing that one could change genders like that. I remember Jan Morris got tons of publicity and it ignited all kinds of debate about transsexuals (which is what transgender people were referred as at the time).

A few years later a tennis player named Renée Richards attempted to compete in the U.S Open as a female athlete. She became controversial when it was revealed that she was originally born a man and she, too, had a sex change operation. There were female tennis players who protested the idea of her being included in their tournaments.

When I was in college I picked up a copy of Gloria Steinem’s book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, which was a compilation of articles that she wrote in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Among those articles was a 1977 essay about the Renée Richards controversy called “Transsexualism.” Her hypothesis was that people opted for sex change operations because of the rigid gender roles that were proscribed in society, which dictates that boys don’t cry and girls don’t play sports. She basically said that if society were to loosen gender roles then men won’t feel the need to have sex change operations so they can express emotions more easily and women could play sports without having sex change operations to become men. Her closing words were “But the question remains: If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?”

In the years since Gloria Steinem wrote her “Transsexualism” essay, there have been major changes in terms of gender roles. More men are opting to become stay-at-home dads while their wives work full-time. There are now male nurses, female doctors, male flight attendants, and female postal workers. The WNBA is a professional women’s basketball team and there is the FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer. Women’s basketball, women’s hockey, and women’s soccer are all Olympic sports. Yet, despite these advances in gender equality, more and more people are coming out as transgender because they feel that they have literally been born in the wrong body, with the most prominent being Caitlyn Jenner, who once won an Olympic gold medal as Bruce Jenner.

During my college years at the University of Maryland at College Park, I met a couple of gay and lesbian students but my first-hand experience with transgender people was limited to going to a midnight screening of a certain cult film that has this musical number:

After college my fiancee and I decided to get married and it was my fiancee who, out of the blue, said that he wanted a church wedding. (I was always surprised by his preference. He told me that his family was basically nonreligious when he was growing up, with the exception of a few years when his family attended a Quaker congregation only to leave it when that congregation went through a nasty congregational split that disgusted his parents so much that they quit.) I had stopped going to mass and I would’ve been content with a civil marriage by a justice of the peace. I told him that we would’ve had to go to marriage classes if we were to be married in the Roman Catholic church while he would have to promise that any future children we had would be raised Catholic. He remembered an ad I had shown him that was published in The Washington Post a year earlier that was for Unitarian Universalism that said “Instead of having to fit in with a church, I found a church that fits me” while telling him that I was impressed with it. (I remember when I found that ad while I was going through the Sunday paper. There were no Unitarian Universalist groups on campus and the nearest congregation was only available by car, which I didn’t have at the time, so I never followed up on that ad and I soon forgot about it.) He even found a local UU congregation that he said we could try. (He also lined up a few other denominations we could try as well—namely Quaker and the United Church of Christ—in case the UU church didn’t work out for either of us.)

So we went to our first UU service and we were impressed with the minister. We found out after the service that the woman was a visiting minister and the regular minister would be speaking the following week. We were still impressed with the fact that the church had a weekly coffee hour where people stuck around and socialized after Sunday service. (In contrast, my old Roman Catholic parish had something similar called “Hospitality Sunday” that was only held once a month. Otherwise, people basically spilled into the parking lot and drove home once mass ended.) We were also impressed with how friendly the people there were. We went back the following week to check out the regular minister and we were impressed with him as well. We started going every week and, after a few months, we signed the membership book. We even managed to get the minister to officiate at our wedding so my husband got his way on having a religious wedding.

So we were married by a UU minister. During the reception I threw my wedding bouquet and one of the single ladies caught it. Then my new husband removed the garter from my leg and one of his single friends caught it. Then the bouquet catcher and garter catcher posed for a photo with me and my newly wedded husband.

The guy who caught my garter was named Dave Norris. Dave’s mother and my husband’s mother were friends and there were times when Dave hung around with my husband and his neighborhood friends in Long Island even though Dave was a few years younger than my husband.

Traditionally there is this old wives’ tale that says that people who catch the bouquet and garter are the ones who will be married next. That doesn’t usually happen in real life but Dave was the rare exception because he got married the following year while my husband was the best man at his wedding. It was a short-lived marriage that happened soon after his girlfriend found out that she was pregnant. The bride was six months pregnant at the wedding. Three months later she had the baby. Three months after the birth, Dave and his new wife separated and they were soon divorced.

My husband and I saw Dave in person a few more times after the quick wedding/separation/divorce. The last time we saw Dave was when he traveled to Maryland with his then-latest girlfriend because he was going to a conference in Washington, DC. The four of us ate at a local restaurant. After that we lost touch with Dave for a few years.

Meanwhile my husband and I became more involved in our new UU congregation where we made new friends. About a year or two later my husband and I ended up as co-chairs of the church’s Social Action Committee. During that time AIDS was starting to ravish the nation. At the same time there was a big March on Washington for LGBTQ people that was announced. A long-time member came to us about doing a lay service about AIDS. We knew that he was previously married to a woman and he had two children (one of whom would tragically die in a car accident when she was only in her early 20’s). It was during that time he came out to us as gay. A short time later he came out as gay to the rest of the congregation. I have to admit that the congregation was shocked but ultimately accepted him because he had been an active member. (If he had been a member of my old religion, he would’ve been driven away no matter how long he had been a member.)

I’ve already written plenty about that longtime member coming out as gay in this blog so I suggest reading this post if you want to learn more about Ed Kobee and his spouse, Al Usack. After Ed managed to rally his fellow congregation members (including my husband and I) to actually attend the March on Washington for LGBTQ rights, he and Al became activists within both our congregation, the Joseph Priestley District, and in the greater UUA for that faith to become more welcoming to LGBTQ people (which resulted in the UUA’s Welcoming Congregation program). Due to those efforts we started to seeing people who were openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual attending our Sunday services. Some became members for years while others attended for a short while then moved on.

I met my first openly transgender person through my UU congregation. One of the newer members was an open bisexual who had joined with her then-husband, who was also bisexual. (They gave a forum at my congregation on bisexuality where they said they had extramarital dalliances with same-sex partners.) That marriage subsequently ended and her husband left the church. She started a new relationship with a person who was born a man but he underwent a sex change operation and was now living as a woman. Yet she was still sexually attracted to women. I attended a forum on transgender at my church and this person spoke openly about how she felt like she was born in the wrong body yet she was still attracted to women. That was how I learned that gender identity and sexual orientation are two completely different things. This person was born in a male body and was sexually attracted to females so society designated him as a heterosexual. After the surgery this person was a woman yet was still sexually attracted to females so society designated her as a lesbian.

Basically the bisexual woman and the transgender woman started a relationship and stayed together for many years until the transgender woman died a few years ago. Over the years we’ve had other transgender people attend our Sunday services. I really can’t elaborate further on these other people because it’s really not my story to tell. On top of it, even though these people are openly transgender to my congregation, they aren’t quite as open to the general public outside of church. That’s because there have been too many cases of transgender discrimination on the job and in housing. And that’s not to mention the fact that there have been Republican lawmakers who are trying to pass those bathroom bills that only exist to make a transgender person’s live much harder. If that weren’t enough, there’s the fact that transgender folks are frequently targets of beatings, sexual assaults, and other acts of violence perpetrated against them by transphobic criminals.

Getting back to my husband’s friend who caught my garter at our wedding, we basically didn’t hear from Dave Norris for a number of years. One day, out of the blue, Dave called our house. My husband and Dave had an enjoyable conversation on the phone. Dave told my husband that he had started his own consulting firm and he gave my husband the URL to his new website.

My husband visited the website and saw the page that had the list of the small staff that the consulting firm had along with headshots. He saw the name “Denise Norris” on the list. At first he assumed that Dave had gotten remarried and his wife was helping out in the new venture. But then he took a closer look at that photo and saw that it looked like Dave dressing in drag. My husband soon called his old friend back and asked point blank if this person now a woman. His friend admitted it.

I remember that night my husband decided to take me out to dinner and he relayed that story about his friend is now living as a woman while we were in the car. We had the car radio on at the time while my husband was telling me this and this song suddenly came on the air.

Talk about serendipity! My husband and I got a good laugh out of it.

I have to admit that accepting my husband’s friend as a woman was slightly more challenging for this reason. The other transgender people I met through my UU congregation had already made the change so I never knew them in their previous gender. On the other hand, both my husband and I knew this person when he was a guy. (And my husband knew this person longer than I did since my husband hung around with this person while they were growing up on Long Island.)

A month or so later Denise was in the DC area attending a conference so we decided to get together for dinner at a local restaurant. It was awkward at first but then we hit it off, especially when my husband and Denise started talking about the old days when they were growing up and they would get into some escapades together.

We also learned that basically Denise had long felt like she was a female even though she was born a boy but she had kept those feelings to herself while she was growing up. I can understand why she felt she had to do this. There have been too many cases of transgender children being rejected by their parents and being targeted by bullies in school. It was only after she reached adulthood that her feelings became stronger and it reached the point where she felt that she had to have the surgery. I also remember that her mother was dead by then. (I don’t know if Denise ever came out to her mother before her death or not.) I’m only paraphrasing here because I don’t have an exact transcript of our conversation from that night and I’m just relying on my less-than-perfect memories here.

I have to credit Unitarian Universalism for my husband and I quickly adjusting to the fact that Dave Norris was now living as a woman named Denise Norris. If we hadn’t met other transgender people before seeing Denise, I think it would’ve taken both of us longer to accept Denise as she is now.

We would see Denise in person a few more times after that. I think the last time we met in person was sometime before 2008 (the year I had my hip replacement).

As for the woman who caught my bouquet at my wedding who is also in that photo I posted a few paragraphs ago, her name is Trisha and she’s my godfather’s daughter. I last saw her in person when my father died in 2000 and she stopped by the funeral home one evening during the viewing period. My husband and I told her what happened to the guy who caught the garter at the wedding and how he is now living as a woman. I remember Trisha smiling and deadpanning, “I have that effect on men sometimes.” (LOL!)

Denise Norris now works at Accenture and she is also a transgender activist whose speciality is getting corporations to not only end job discrimination among transgender people but also offer benefits to them (such as health insurance that’s broad enough to afford such expenses as hormone therapy and sex change surgery). She frequently gives media interviews on the topic, such as this recent example. I follow her on Facebook where I read her posts on transgender issues and fellow transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner. (Like many in the transgender community, Denise basically has a dim view of Caitlyn mainly because Caitlyn continues to support the same Republican Party that has been coming out with those notorious bathroom bills in recent years.) I haven’t directly communicated with her in years, especially since I am now divorced and Denise had been more of a friend of my ex-husband’s than mine. On top of it, our paths simply haven’t crossed in real life. There are times I wonder if Denise still has my old wedding garter and, if so, had she ever worn it. (LOL!)

As for my UU congregation there are still LGBTQ members who are active. The most recent transgender member is a person who originally joined my congregation as a man a few years ago. He was open about admitting that he was suffering from gender dysphoria and he was seeing a therapist about that. Last year this person decided to undergo medical treatment and she is now living as a woman. She is also in a relationship with a cis woman who’s a lesbian. This member now looks happier than before the change.

That’s it for my story.

Ramadan

I recently added a new experience on my resume and LinkedIn profile because I think it’s the most interesting temp job I’ve ever done. I was an extra at a taping of an upcoming television special that will air on public television throughout the United States later this year.

I unexpectedly got this gig when I was attending a networking event that was held at the state-run Maryland Workforce Exchange. I was searching for a new day job to pay the bills so I decided to go to this networking event to see if my fortunes would change. One of the participants there was currently doing a temporary gig for Central Casting where she was tasked with getting people to go to the taping. (She’s currently looking for something more permanent herself.) I spoke with her and we hit it off. I added my name to the list of people willing to attend the taping.

A few days later I got a few emails instructing me where to go, what time I was supposed to show up, and where I can find free parking. The emails also said that the dress code was limited to business and business casual. (In other words, no t-shirts or sweatshirts with slogans, sports teams logos, or a photo of the latest pop music sensation.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect other than it would be a talk on financial planning. Since my finances are currently in the toilet (I had incurred some debts in the wake of my unexpected divorce and I’ve been having trouble with finding a steady day job so I can pay those debts down) I thought that it would be one of those talks that wouldn’t be relevant in my current situation. (In fact, I probably would not have gone if it hadn’t been a paying gig.) The first night I went I brought my latest knitting project with me thinking that I would at least get that project done while sitting through the talk. I ended up not even touching that knitting until during one of the 10-minute breaks that took place halfway through the taping. That’s because the talk was way more interesting than I expected. The second night I left my knitting at home.

The first night as I was walking into the auditorium prior to the taping I overheard a woman tell someone else that she has seen the speaker on television many times in the past. She said that he is someone she always listens to regarding planning for the future.

The TV special featured financial expert Ric Edelman giving a presentation on how technological innovations and economic changes will affect financial planning for the future. He said that the old days where people went to school, got their job working for just one company for 30-50 years, retired, then died anywhere between 65-75 are over.

He mentioned that business will become less like the New York model (where people worked for the same company with the same employees and bosses for a number of years until retirement) and be more like the Hollywood movie studio model (where people gather together to work on one project until that project is done and the people move on to other jobs/projects in other places with new coworkers). He cited the gig economy as one example of that Hollywood-like trend.

He gave numerous examples of technological innovations that will become more prevalent in the future, such as robots taking over more of the jobs that people currently do, the rise of crypto-currency like Bitcoin, finding cures for Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancers, and other similar breakthroughs that will result in people living longer and seeing certain types of work going the way of the horse and buggy industry (which was a major employer in the U.S. until cars came along). All this will affect people’s financial planning.

His talk reminded me of the film Future Shock, which I had to sit through twice (once in the 7th grade and once in the 12th grade) when I was in school. The big difference is that the movie had a more negative tone about the changing times and the technology that went on at that time (I still remember the scene where narrator Orson Welles spoke disdainfully about people being able to get artificial joints in the future—as someone with a hip replacement, I’m very grateful for that technological breakthrough because I would’ve eventually ended up in a wheelchair without it). In contrast, Ric Edelman puts a more positive spin on the technological innovations that are either here now or will be coming within the next few years. (I’ll admit that some of my pacifist friends would have been horrified to hear him give a positive spin on the increasing use of drone warfare. Edelman talked about how drones can eliminate having to use flesh-and-blood soldiers in battles so it would save them from exposing them to physical and mental trauma. That is the positive side of drone warfare. What he didn’t say is what happens to the people who are targeted by these drones—many of whom include children and innocent civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.)

He spoke so positively about the technological changes in the future that I kept on thinking about this 1990’s hit song “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

Future Shock frequently shows up on YouTube only to have it get taken down. As of this writing, the film is back online right here. (In case this new link gets taken down, you can read Fast Company’s article on what Future Shock got right and wrong.) Watching a 1972 film predicting the future is interesting in terms of what the film got right and what it got wrong (despite the film’s overall negative tone). I would love to see the video featuring Ric Edelman’s talk about the future 10 or 20 years from now in order to learn what he got right and wrong, but I digress.

He gave this presentation as a way of promoting his latest book, The Truth About Your Future, which is also currently a New York Times bestseller.

I took pictures during my two nights I was working as an extra. The event took place at Montgomery College Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus.

I had toyed with arriving at the campus about an hour or two before the taping on the second night so I could explore the campus and grab an early dinner someplace nearby. I had to scuttle that plan when it rained on the second night. The taping took place both nights at the Cultural Arts Center building.

The next shot shows this interesting glass and steel sculpture that hung from the ceiling of the building inside.

The procedures for working as an extra were the same both nights. We were instructed to arrive at the building by 6:30 p.m. (I had to eat an earlier dinner than usual both days so I wouldn’t starve through the taping. It was a good thing I did that because the auditorium prohibited food and drinks.) The first thing we had to do was go to one of the tables where a representative from Central Casting was seated and do a check in.

We were given this form where the only thing we had to fill out was our name, address, phone number, Social Security number. We also had to sign it at the bottom. Central Casting filled out everything else.

Once we checked in we basically hung around in the lobby where people chatted among each other or went to use the restrooms.

Around 7 p.m. we lined up outside the auditorium doors and filed into the auditorium.

I took a couple pictures of some of the camera operators who were filming the presentation.

The director took to the stage first where he had us practice clapping and cheering. He instructed us to turn off our cell phones (I ended up putting my phone on vibrate). We were to look in Ric’s direction at all times while enthusiastically clapping at the proper time. We could also utter exclamations like “wow!”, “oooh!”, “aaaah!”, “whoah!”, and so on.

Once the director left the stage Ric Edelman appeared where he gave his presentation. He talked nonstop for the first 45 minutes. After he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came out on stage announcing that there was a two-minute break while Edelman drank some water backstage. We were allowed to stand up and stretch but we couldn’t leave the auditorium.

Ric Edelman returned to the stage while we applauded. He continued his presentation for another half-an-hour or 45 minutes. When he said “When we come back…” we clapped and cheered as he left the stage. The director came back on stage and announced a 10-minute break where we could go to the restroom if we needed to do so. During that time the director looked for 10 people who were willing to ask questions. The questioners lined up towards the back.

When the 10-minute break ended, Ric Edelman returned to the stage where he did the Q & A segment with the 10 volunteers. Once he finished answering all of the questions, the taping ended for the night.

The last picture shows Ric Edelman giving his talk. Unfortunately I was seated in the back of the auditorium on both nights so I wasn’t able to get a decent shot of him.

As we left the auditorium we had to turn in our signed form to the nearest Central Casting representative before we could leave the building and go home. I didn’t leave the event until it was around 9:30 p.m.

Ric Edelman gave the same presentation both nights. The main difference were the people who asked questions at the end. (Overall a total of 20 people got a chance to ask Ric Edelman a question while one of the cameras focused on the questioner so that person got a brief bit of fame. Of course, I don’t know how many of those questioners will actually make the final cut and actually end up being aired on television.) The auditorium was packed the first night with every single seat taken. On the second night I noticed that fewer people had showed up. (I guess some of the participants couldn’t show up both nights.) The director focused on filling up the seats closest to the stage. I ended up in the back just like the night before. I noticed that there were empty seats in rows that were further back than where I sat on the second night.

The biggest challenge on the second night was sitting through the same presentation again while pretending that I was hearing it for the first time. It wasn’t too bad hearing it for the second time because it was such an engaging presentation and Ric Edelman is such a dynamic speaker. Given my current financial situation, I would’ve been willing to sit through the same presentation every night for the next six months.

The show is tentatively scheduled to air on PBS in December during Pledge Week. (Which was why Ric Edelman interrupted his presentation twice—just so the local PBS stations can jump in with their own broadcasts begging people to make a generous donation so the stations can keep operating another year.) All in all I found the whole experience fascinating and I really enjoyed the presentation that Ric Edelman gave (even if I had to sit through it twice over a two-night period). I learned a lot from the presentation (especially regarding future technological advances) and, what’s more, I got paid $50 per night. So I earned $100 that week. Sweet!

This morning I woke up to find out that Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden and Audioslave, has just died at 52. The news is now coming out that he had hung himself.

Soundgarden was among the bands I listened to back during the early 1990’s grunge era (along with Nirvana, Hole, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains). Sadly I never got the chance to see that band in concert. I still play Superunknown on a regular basis because the music is that good.

The sad part is that Soundgarden had just reunited and the band was playing a few gigs. Chris Cornell made this tweet just a few hours before he was found dead.

That tweet doesn’t look like one that was made by someone who was suicidal. It sounded like he was happy.

I’m just going to end this post by embedding a few videos that show Chris Cornell in action.

I attended a benefit concert featuring my friends The Bachelor and the Bad Actress at the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland. It was a fundraiser to help pay off the medical bills of the Bachelor’s sister. (Even though she has health insurance, the hospital bills were still very expensive.) Here’s a photo of the duo on stage.

Here’s a short video I shot of the couple.

I was browsing YouTube a few days ago when I happened to come upon this video. This is the oldest known melody that has survived ancient times. This tune—known alternatively as Hurrian Hymn No. 6, Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal, Hurrian Cult Hymn, A Zaluzi to the Gods, and h.6—dates back to around 1400 BCE. It was discovered in Ugarit, Syria in the 1950’s.

This tune is pretty catchy and you can easily play it in the background while you’re doing things like spring cleaning or decluttering your office desk.

You can learn more about the background of this song on Wikipedia.

Given its age, it’s definitely the ultimate in Throwback Thursday. Considering that it was discovered in Syria decades ago and considering the awful hell that nation has gone through in recent years, I shudder to think about how many other ancient artifacts have inadvertently been shot, looted, or bombed to pieces by ISIS or government forces loyal to the Assad regime or by other nations who have aided and financed this war. (I’m especially looking at you, Russia and the United States.)

May Day

A few years ago one of my friends, Phil Shapiro, did this song called “Open Source is Yours and Mine,” which I wrote a blog post about when he originally released it on SoundCloud. He later did a video version, which he uploaded on to YouTube.

I had been thinking about doing a followup to my last animation, “The March of Liberty,” which was screened at Light City in Baltimore last month (and I even shot a short reaction video when I saw it being played on a large outdoor screen).

I was toying around with doing something based on “Open Source is Yours and Mine” for a while but I finally did it last Friday. Well, anyway, for your May Day viewing pleasure, here is the animated version of “Open Source is Yours and Mine”—complete with an appearance by a penguin.

Yes, I’ll admit that I was inspired by certain movies while I was making it (including the bridge scene from It’s a Wonderful Life and the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp). LOL!

This is the fourth year that a maker event took place in Greenbelt, Maryland. (It used to be known as the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire until this year, when the organizers decided against renewing the license with Make magazine, which holds the rights to the name “Maker Faire”. One of the reasons I heard is that the organizers of this event has always insisted on it being a non-commercial, non-profit community event which is the opposite of most Maker Faire events, which tend to have all kinds of corporate sponsorships.) After sitting out last year, I decided to return as a participating vendor with my own table.

Makerspace 125 is the main spearheader of this event. This is what it looked like on that day all decked out in balloons and hoops wrapped with yarn.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Someone draped the nearby Mother and Child statue with long strings of beads.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Here is my vending area at this year’s event.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

A few days earlier I created a video slideshow of my sketchbook drawings I made over the years (I only admitted the ones that depicted partial or full nudity because this festival is an all-ages family-friendly event). I made a little brochure explaining about myself. I also offered free Oreo cookies.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

This section shows the comic book coasters I made by cutting up the comic book collection that my ex-husband left behind. (I attempted to sell them but comic books are worth squat these days, especially if they were published after 1985.) I first debuted them at the 2015 Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and I still had a few left mainly because I haven’t worked as many art shows and craft fairs in recent years as before the economic meltdown of 2008.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Last, but not least, here is my Barbie doll section.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

The one in the front is the Barbie that I customized into the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (which I also documented in my four-part DIY video series).

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

The three other dolls in the back are ones I originally found in thrift stores and I converted them into fairy dolls.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Since this event took place the day before Easter Sunday, there were plenty of eggs on display this year.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Here are my photos of the rest of the festival. The day started off cloudy and cool but then the sun came out and it got progressively hotter until I took off my hooded sweatshirt and just walked around in a t-shirt instead. The cream in the middle of the Oreo cookies I was giving away started to ooze from the middle of each cookie. (I ultimately had to put the entire pack in the refrigerator when I returned home.)

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt #Maker Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland, April 15, 2017.

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

Greenbelt Maker Festival 2017

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

2017 Greenbelt Maker Festival

Even though the weather was ideal, the event drew a smaller crowd this year than in previous years. I have a feeling that the fact that this event was scheduled on the day before Easter had something to do with it. I only made a total of $25 in sales throughout the entire six-hour event. I was sort of disappointed because I really wanted to get rid of some excess crafts that have been stored in my home for the past few years while earning extra money. Oh well. At least I got to see a lot of my friends at this event so that’s something.

I also shot a short video of some parts of the festival, which you can view below.

Passover

Today is Tax Day in the U.S. and I’m burning the stress candle at both ends between getting my taxes done on time, following up on some potential job leads, and doing some general spring cleaning of my home. The one fringe benefit of Tax Day is that it gives me an incentive to go through papers trying to find any documents I could use for filling out those damned tax return forms while I take that opportunity to throw old papers either in the trash or the recycling bin (depending on if the paper in question is recyclable or not).

In the course of sorting through old papers I came across a letter from last year notifying me of the death of my onetime divorce lawyer while saying that if there are any outstanding papers from him that I need I should go to the lawyer handling my late lawyer’s estate and get them immediately. (Luckily my divorce lawyer had given me all the documents I needed around the time of my divorce so I didn’t need to do that.)

Well, anyway, here’s a video break that’s appropriate for today. It was originally a Beatles song but the late George Harrison did a live performance of that tune during a 1992 concert in Japan that also included Eric Clapton on guitar.

Passover

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.

I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.

Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.

There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)

Kamecon 2017

Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.

Kamecon 2017

The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.

Kamecon 2017

There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

There were other video games that people played.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.

The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.

Kamecon 2017

There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

Kamecon 2017

I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.

University of Maryland

The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.

University of Maryland

University of Maryland

Here’s a shot of the Mall.

University of Maryland

One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.

University of Maryland

March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.

University of Maryland

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