Adventures in the 700 Section

From about age 12 to 15, almost all of my pop culture itches were scratched at the Torrance Public Library. Where Greg Hatcher steeped himself in genre fiction, I was all about the nonfiction; the people, the history, the methods. We were both trying to escape, but while Greg was escaping into fictional worlds, I was trying to escape into a different real world, become a different person, and I knew that the tools to do that would be found almost entirely in the 700 section.

R.I.P. Jim Steinman

Songwriter Jim Steinman, best known for writing the Bat Out of Hell album for Meat Loaf, a number of hits for other singers, and a couple of musicals, died last week. He was 73 and had been ill for some time, ultimately succumbing to kidney failure. It took me a few days to figure out what to say about him. I think the best approach is to just tell my story of discovering and experiencing his work.

‘Soul’ and the Transformation Trope

Pixar’s Soul was the center of a meme that circulated this summer, prior to the release of the film, which suggested that it was racist for the lead character, an African-American, to be transformed into a blue-green blob in the trailer. The author cited several films as examples of the problematic pattern. Taking a look at the trope, the cited films, and the context and messaging of each, might be in order.

Of Breakfast Cereals and Cults

So I went down a rabbit-hole a while back and I ended up in a weird place. It started innocently enough, with a discussion of General Mills’ monster-themed breakfast cereals, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, but it somehow ended up with a weird Victorian-era metaphysical cult.