Saturday, March 28, 2015

Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture

by Drew Martin
It is not every day you come across an hour and a half long film about one sculpture so I recently relished watching Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture.

Heizer received formal lessons at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early 1960's but the paintings he produced became more about sculpture and his sculptures became more about the world beyond the walls of galleries and museums. Heizer brought heavy construction to art with big earth-moving machines. A few of his pieces are about negative space, such as Double Negative, which he made in 1969 by carving out two swaths of sandstone rock about the size of the Empire State Building (on its side).

Levitated Mass is an enormous quarried rock that now sits on a trench outside of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The documentary is of course about the installed piece and Heizer's vision but the movie celebrates the engineering behind the logistics of transporting something so big and setting it in its place.

For much of the documentary we follow the moving crew as they hauled the rock with a specially designed rig, which was the size of a football field so that the load could be distributed over a large area; essential for when it was driven on overpasses.

The travel distance from the quarry to LACMA was more than 100 miles, and many of the crew walked along side the rock. The best part of the documentary were the candid interviews with the locals who came out to watch the procession. One man even used the occasion to propose to his girlfriend. And everyone had something different to say: from religious references and epiphanies to disbelief and suspicion. One woman even thought that it was military secret and offered that the form might just be styrofoam that encased some device.

What I liked learning the most about was that Heizer's father was an anthropological geologist, which means he was interested in stonecarving cultures, such as the Olmec, who had to move heavy blocks of stove over large distances.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Itself: A Documentary About Robert Ebert, The Soldier of Cinema

by Drew Martin
Looking back at everything I watched as a kid on television, one of the show's I liked the most was Gene Siskel and Robert Ebert's At The Movies. It brought to television an argumentative conversation about the pop culture of movies by two frenemies from Illinois who were movie critics at competing Chicago newspapers. I loved how they locked horns but I always appreciated more Ebert's insight and intellect so I was delighted to see there is a documentary about him on Netflix called Life Itself. It is an very intimate look at Ebert's life (1942 - 2013), from his struggles with alcohol to his medical issues including the removal of his jaw because of cancer. Werner Herzog, who dedicated his film about Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World to Ebert, called him the soldier of cinema because of his perseverance and steel will.

The documentary opens with a speech Ebert gave in 2005:

We all are born with a certain package; we are who we are - where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We are kind of stuck inside that person. And the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.

This occasion for this speech was for his star dedication: he was the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and 30 years earlier he was the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize. The ubiquitous "thumbs up" image in social media is a direct descendant of this simple rating system introduced to television by his show. Ebert was certainly ahead of his time (and the Twitter phenomenon): he introduced the idea of direct reporting from Cannes about the movies being shown during the film festival, in a time when the rest of the critics took notes during the events, and then wrote about the movies they reviewed after they returned home to their respective media outlets.

The aforementioned speech is followed by a text quote from him that is centered on the screen:

"I was born inside the movie of my life...I don't remember how I got into the movie, but it continues to entertain me."

If his own life was a movie, then the best supporting actor goes not to Siskel but his lovely wife Chaz, who we see a lot of in this documentary. Ebert was an active blogger and his blog can still be seen at, which includes a blog by Chaz.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rich Hill

by Drew Martin
I watch, read, and see a lot of things that I do not write posts about, despite what you might think based on the contents of this blog. There was one documentary, Rich Hill, I recently watched that I really liked, and liking it was enough for me so I did not feel like I should work it into a post. But tonight my daughter asked me why I watched it, and why I liked it.

Rich Hill is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that was made by two cousins who turned their lens on the small town Missouri life that they know firsthand. It follows three teenage boys, Andrew, Appachey, and Harley. All three are disadvantaged, some would say white-trash kids, but despite being uneducated and rough around the edges, they are all very likable in their own, unique way.

I like this film a lot because there is no agenda, other than and honest "walk a mile in my shoes" approach. And, most fortunately there is no character/subject gentrification. It is not a film about escaping an impoverished life through talent or luck but rather, take each day as it comes, and hopefully the next one is better.

There were two art-related moments that took me by surprise and they were both in the presence of Appachey, the most reckless of the youths. With no apparent focus or direction in life, he says out-of-the-blue that he would like to be an art teacher in China. He then continues to say that if you are an art teacher in China, all you have to do is sit around and draw pictures of dragons all day. From an adult that would be an off-color remark but from a young boy, it is a dream job/world.

The other "art" moment is when Appachey is walking around a run-down section of town by an highway underpass. He complains there is ice everywhere and apparently wants to smash it all. He walks through one huge puddle that has a thin layer of ice, and throws rocks and even his skateboard at it to break it, which seems delinquent and pointless but then he steps back and holds out his arms and exclaims, "The amazing splatter art." It is a scene that explains how unlikely artists such as Julian Schnabel and Damien Hirst got their start.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Web Junkie: In the Real World Everybody is Fake

by Drew Martin
A distraught Chinese teenager who has been locked up in a military hospital for a boot camp-style rehab program is asked why he is there. He sobs, "I used the Internet." Web Junkie is an eye-opening documentary about one of China's (roughly) 400 rehab centers that have been established to make certain youth go cold turkey on "electronic heroin." The term is used when describing the addiction to (primarily) online video games. [The expression in Chinese for computer is electronic brain] While the prison-like atmosphere seems extreme, especially the ten-day solitary confinement used to punish a boy featured in the documentary who escaped and then was returned, the young junkies pushed their desperate parents over the edge by skipping school, spending nights and days in the arcade/call center-like internet cafés, and losing touch with reality. One of the youths in the center brags about playing Warcraft for 300 continuous hours, pausing briefly to take cat naps. Some kids even wear diapers made for incontinent adults because they worry that taking a bathroom break will affect their performance. A father of one of the rehab kids claims his colleague's son died in one of the cafés at night. The boys are typically tricked into the stay, which is a minimum four months. One of the boys says his parents told him they were taking him for a ski trip to Russia. Some kids are even drugged in their sleep by their parents. The parents, however, often seem to be the root of the problem. They are demanding about their schoolwork and not loving. One father explains that he beats his son, and wants the people running the center to do the same. He adds that he once tried to stab his son with a knife. The Chinese government classifies Internet addiction as a clinical disorder and reports to have more than 20 million Internet addicts. One of the adults in the documentary muses that this is related to their one-child policy, and most of the kids in the program question the reality of their life in China compared to the fantastical world of their video games.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Taste of Civilization

by Drew Martin
If you have been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and visited the 40,000-square-foot wing on the south side that houses the arts of Africa, (native) Americas, and Oceania, you might have noticed it is dedicated to Michael C. Rockefeller. The collection was kickstarted by Michael’s father, Nelson A. Rockefeller, a former governor of New York, who donated his more than 3,000-piece collection to the Met. Many of the objects in the collection were gathered by Michael during his anthropological and art collecting trips in New Guinea. He was most fascinated by the Asmat people and their ancestral bisj poles (pictured top), which embodied cycles of life and the cannibalistic headhunting raids.

The completion of a bisj pole usually unleashed a new round of raids; revenge was taken and balance restored, new heads obtained—new seeds to nourish the growth of boys into men—and the blood of the victims rubbed into the pole. The spirit in the pole was made complete. The villagers then engaged in sex, and the poles were left to rot in the sago fields, fertilizing the sago and completing the cycle.

On November 18, 1961 Michael was aboard a makeshift boat during a return expedition in the region. The boat capsized in the rough delta of the Pulau River/Eilandenrivier of the Arafura Sea. Michael left a Dutch companion with the debilitated craft and tried to make the more-than-three-mile swim to shore, which was done successfully earlier by two locals who had also been aboard. He was never seen from again.

Michael was thought to have drowned, or to have been eaten by sharks or crocodiles. There was also strong evidence that he reached shore but was then murdered by Ajam, (pictured here, middle, in a photo from 1973 when he was chief of the Dani tribe) who acknowledged killing Michael and, with the help of others, eating him.

Cannibalism was revenge based so Michael and other Western visitors to this region were typically outside of that death cycle but the tribe that is said to have killed him had yet to revenge deaths by a Dutch official who shot and killed Asmat people a few years prior. One other fantastical story is that he shed his past, and cultural trappings, and went native. Film footage from 1969 of an Asmat war canoe fleet fueled this speculation when a Caucasian man who resembled Michael was noticed among the cannibals. (Still from footage pictured below)

While the latter story is the least likely because of the extensive search for him, it does make for an interesting tale, especially since Michael hastily returned to the area after a brief visit to New York, where he learned his parents were getting divorced. And who better to turn his back on Western culture than one of the heirs of the greatest fortunes, compounded by an unsettled feeling he must have had for his trading of Western tools in exchange for a kind of cultural robbery of a people he had grown so close to, who he found uninhibited and unburdened by the problems of "civilization." And while it is hard to find a good angle at the butchering and consumption of a fellow being, the Asmat people believed you took on the knowledge and power of the individual you cannibalized.

What recently piqued my interest in this topic was a documentary I watched about the search for Michael:

To see a more recent incident of cannibalism in Western culture, watch Ke$ha's video, Cannibal:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Whiplash: Perfect Timing

by Drew Martin
Last night I saw the brilliant film Whiplash about the demanding atmosphere of jazz musician students at the Shaffer Conservatory, a fictitious stand-in for The Juilliard School in New York City. It focuses on a jazz drummer (played by Miles Teller) and the all-consuming life of trying to achieve and then hold on to the coveted position as core drummer in the elite studio band, which is conducted by a drill sergeant of a teacher (an amazing performance by J. K. Simmons). The film is, of course, about jazz, and drumming, but it is really about the drive for perfection and the caustic and abusive relationships that are sometimes needed to achieve great things.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Norwegian Would: Twin Sisters and F*ck For Forest

by Drew Martin
Perhaps I am just tuned in to this because of a long, record-cold winter in the Northeast but there seems to be a lot of Norway going around. I recently overheard my Skyping sister-in-law in Poland say that she would like to move her small family to Norway because of a film she watched. It compares the lives of twin Chinese sisters who were found in a cardboard box. The discarded babies were separated and independently handed off to a family from Fresvik, Norway, and a family from Sacramento, California. The families made the connection on their own and make efforts to keep the adopted girls close despite the great distance and language barrier between them.

The hour-long documentary about these girls, Twin Sisters (Tvillingsøstrene)
, is a Norwegian film by Mona Friis Bertheussen so it is a little over the top with glorious music every time there are fjordic nature scenes. The Fresvik shots are undeniably beautiful but the poor life in a bleak village with only one store and a small, mediocre school is over-romanticized, and Bertheussen tries her best to show the worst of America in a fake-nice way. There is no mention, for example, how close the "trapped in suburbia" American twin lives next to some of the most majestic forests in the world. I also had to laugh when the American twin is directed to look out over the Pacific Ocean as if to look out for her sister. First of all, the ocean is farther from Sacramento than the nearest forest, although it is passed off as a feature of her city and secondly, the distance to Fresvik from that spot over the Pacific is more than 13,000 miles. If she turned around it would only be 5,000 miles.

Click here to watch the entire documentary

The other Norwegian influenced film I saw recently was F*ck For Forest (FFF). Quite the contrast to the picturesque Rockwellian documentary mentioned above, FFF is a feature-length documentary about a couple Norwegians who started the FFF not-for-profit, eco-porn organization, which raises money to protect the world's endangered forest through the creation and dissemination of amateur porn (primarily through the FFF website). This business model is fueled by asking people they meet at parties and walking around Tiergarten in Berlin to pose naked or have sex for them, and charging the voyeurs who want to watch it online.

FFF is a narrative-driven documentary made by the 
Polish director Michał Marczak. It got a lowly, sub-two-star rating on Netflix, but it is actually a five-star work of art. It captures this delusional motley crew's rawest moments from their reestablished base in Berlin, Germany to a flop of a trip to South America, which falls apart when they are shouted out of a town gathering where they had hoped to be embraced by as great benefactors. FFF brilliantly captures the subculture of Europe that not a lot of people get to experience, but which Marczak gives us a first-hand and unbiased look. It might be a hard film to watch for some people but I trust it much more than Tvillingsøstrene.

And what a great trailer!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Girl With Axe

by Drew Martin
When I was in Poland two summers ago meeting up with my wife and kids who were there for a longer vacation, I stayed with them in the big, modern, concrete house my father-in-law had made with his bare hands. He and my mother-in-law live there on the bottom floor. My sister-in-law, her husband, and young daughter live on the second floor. We stayed on my wife's floor above that.

I borrowed AXE shampoo from the brother-in-law when I was there, and I really liked the product. It is totally designed for hip, younger men, like this guy but I also found the branding very ironic. My father-in-law, a laborer, is a typical hard-working Pole; always building or fixing something, very diligent but also possessing brute force. My brother-in-law is very physically active but only in sports and recreation, not the old-school way. 

I have been thinking about this project for a while: to take an old axe I have used for 15 years and give it a metrosexual makeover, and to render it useless. So I sanded down my axe handle, and polished the blade. I chiseled out part of the handle and set into it a 3D print I made from the AXE logo that I downloaded from and extruded in SketchUp. Originally I was going to paint the handle black and detail it with blue flames like AXE products but after spraying it with a flat black paint, it looked pretty cool just like that. I drilled holes in the handle and inserted a string of lights from IKEA but I needed to hide the batteries and excess wiring so I modeled a small object that holds the battery switch case and has a place for a magnet, which fixes it to the back side of the blade so that it is out of view.

My wife was not to eager to have it hanging in the family room but my daughter wanted it in her room. Here she is owning it. The original, retired axe, is pictured below that.

To see my axe accessory 3D models and read more about the process, click here to see my Thingiverse post.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A (3D) Model Teacher

by Drew Martin
Hands down, my favorite teacher of all time was Ann Hamilton, with whom I studied art at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the late 80s/early 90s. I love this picture of her taken by Bob Debris during that era.

This morning I set out to try to make a small figurine of Ann as pictured in the photograph of her but my model had too many mistakes and it would not properly "slice" in my 3D printer software.

I decided to simplify it so I took off the hands that were causing problems, as well as the head of rushes, which was even more of an issue. Then I sized it up and made a cavity so it could be used as a vase.

In the end it worked out well. I was still able to print part of the model I had originally set out to make and now it has got some more life to it.

Click here to 3D print this vase from my Thinigiverse post for it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Printed Matter at the 80 WSE Gallery

by Drew Martin
I just ended my last post thinking about a 1930s hand-cranked press, which was relevant to politically active artists of the show who could make copies of their work to "get the word out." 

In a way, this manual aspect of that show continues down the street, unbeknownst to its curators. If you leave NYU's Gray Art Gallery, hang left and walk a block south on Washington Square East you will find the 80 WSE Gallery. The current show, Learn to Read Art: A Surviving History of Printed Matter, is up until February 14. The exhibition is a physical timeline of the artists' book organization Printed Matter, established by the likes of Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and others.

From the galleries press release:

As a non-profit institution that has always been located within New York City’s gallery districts, Printed Matter has remained unique in its ability to democratize the field of contemporary art. In their space, books by Ed Ruscha sit next to zines by unknown young artists from rural parts of the United States and heavy metal guitar players perform while high profile art collectors browse alongside high school students. This sustained and evolving notion of democracy is at the core of the organization’s work.

That being said, in a back room of the chockfull-of-art-books/magazines/zines gallery is a big workshop room were a handful of artists-in-residence create a range of works, which are sold in the front of the gallery. Exit through the gift shop, in a good way.

What I liked as much, is a mini exhibition space at the 80 WSE Gallery, which has up a show until February 5, Re[intent]ion: Adaptation +Subversion of the Wearable.

The piece that I really like there is Brincos, an art-shoe project that speaks about migration. The shoes were “designed” for Mexicans trying to cross the border into the United States.

Judi Werthein (Argentinian, b. 1967)
Brincos, 2005
Mixed media

These sneakers are the result of the public art intervention Brinco (“jump” in Spanish)…Designed to aid migrant workers when crossing the Mexican/U.S. border, the shoes include a flashlight and a compass, a map of the border region imprinted in the insole, and a pocket on the tongue.  The sneakers are manufactured in the colors of the Mexican flag; they also feature the eagle that appears on the US quarter, as well as the Aztec eagle, which signals the point of origin of the migrants. The picture on the back heel of the shoes depicts the Patron Saint of Migrants in Mexico.

One thousand pairs of Brincos were produced in China, with half of them given for free by the artist to possible migrants preparing to cross the border, while the rest were sold at a boutique in San Diego for $250 a pair.

Black History Omitted: Peter Schjeldahl White Washes the Red Decade

by Drew Martin
After reading Peter Schjeldahl’s Jan 26 New Yorker article, Left Turns, on Jan 20, I decided to have a look at the show he reviewed: The Left Front, Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929-1940, which is up until April 4 at the Grey Art Gallery of New York University. The gallery is only a ten-minute walk from my workplace so I stopped by during a lunch break.

My first question was whether or not Schjeldahl had actually seen the show because his article is more a summary of the gallery’s press kit, including what he calls their "handsome brochure," than what I believe one should take away from being there in person. The most glaring omission is that Schjeldahl makes no reference to the African American presence/subject matter, which includes some of the strongest pieces. This oversight surprised me because the show opened a week prior to Martin Luther King Jr., Day and leads into February, which is Black History Month. Even the press kit includes a large reproduction of one of the most poignant pieces, Christ in Alabama by Prentiss Taylor. Taylor, a white artist is pretty radical to have made such a work in 1932. It depicts a weeping black woman (a Mary figure) next to a standing black man, whose arms are raised up in the air. There is a white cross behind him so his gesture of submission to god doubles as a crucifixion. I had always seen this gesture as just a submission to god or a welcoming of a congregation; is it actually a gesture of crucifixion? I had never considered that before but this piece makes me think so. As does the lightly written line under the image: Christ in Alabama  - “Proof.” Does proof mean that it is just an early run of this lithograph, or is it actually part of the title? Is he saying that this black man’s suffering is proof of Christ’s presence in Alabama through his ability to endure an extension of slavery, referenced by the blooming cotton seeds opposite the crying woman? 
Or is Taylor playing on both meanings?

There are a couple other images by Taylor, such as Scottsboro Limited, where a telephone pole assumes the role of the cross, above a mass of young, black men. They represent the “Scottsboro Boys,” nine black teenagers accused of raping two, young white women in Alabama in 1931. Their all-white jury trial and attempted lynching was an inexcusable corruption of justice. All but a twelve-year-old among them were convicted of rape and sentenced to death but with help from the American Communist Party, the case was appealed. Even after one of the young women confessed to fabricating the story, the jury of a retrial came up with a guilty verdict. The case went to court three times and charges were eventually dropped for four of the nine defendants. Sentences for the others ranged from 75 years in prison to death.

A work that makes an even greater visual impression than Taylor’s lithographs (but hard [for Schjeldahl] to see in the tiny thumbnail in the press kit) is Mitchell Siporin’s Let America Be America Again, from 1936. It is tempera on panel and even if you were blind in one eye and had bad vision in the other, you would still take note of this work for its strength, and not to mention its "handsome" white gold leaf frame. How this work could go unmentioned is beyond me. 

“…Let American Be America Again, was also a rare collaboration between artist and poet. Langston Hughes, known as the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance, was the most widely recognized black writer in America. A strong communist sympathizer, he agitated on behalf of the Scottsboro boys, traveled to the Soviet Union, and was the figurehead for the Communist front organization, the League of Struggle for Negro Rights. Siporin and Hughes had much in common: politically radical, proudly Midwestern, and passionate admirers of Whitman and Sandburg, they were ideally suited to work together.

Siporin’s painting...portrays a diverse cast of disenfranchised countrymen: white, black, and native-American; male and female; adult and child. The visual anchor of the composition, a kneeling figure...provides the political focus of the work."  source

Another thing that surprised me about what Schjeldahl dwelled upon was the color lithograph by Bernarda Bryson Shah, The Lovestonite. He calls it the “one outright funny work in the show.” A side-step away, on the same wall, however, is an even more comical work by Elizabeth Olds titled, Picasso Study Club. Olds was the first woman to receive a Guggenheim fellowship (1926). The painting satirizes the limelight on Picasso at the time and contrasts the elitism of galleries and museums with more popular art forms.

Included in the show is Alex Tophcevhsky’s print press from the 1930s. Perhaps most viewers pass by it as a curious timepiece thrown into the collection but as a new owner of a 3D printer with a good understanding of the potential this new technology has, this metal, hand–cranked press made me realize not only how modern and empowering that reproduction device was to many of the artists in the collection, but how these works of various media were all very hands-on.

Daily News Delivery Truck Gets Stuck in Snowbank Because of Low Readership!

by Drew Martin
It sounds like a cheap headline: Daily News Delivery Truck Gets Stuck in Snowbank Because of Low Readership! but here is what happened.

I got up this morning at 4:30am, did sit-ups for half an hour and then shoveled snow for two and a half hours from our steps, driveway, and corner property sidewalk. Then I went for my run. I love to run after a big snowfall because the streets are soft, it is quiet, and everything has transformed overnight into fluffy, white objects.

On the way down the steepest hill I meet a desperate man trying to get his delivery truck out of a snowbank. It was a delivery truck for the Daily News. The side door was rolled open but there was only one small stack of papers. I broke off some evergreen tree branches, put them under his tires for traction, and pushed. Another man stopped his car, got out, and helped. The hill was too steep to push him forward so we pushed his truck sideways, into the road, and then I advised him to go back down the hill and told him an alternate route that was less treacherous to get to the place he was trying to drop off the papers.

He was extremely thankful, and explained that because readership of the paper is down, his truck did not have the weight it needed to have a grip on the road.

I continued on my run, went up another hill and took this picture. No news is good news.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

George Takei: Beneficiary Of His Own Optimism

by Drew Martin
What do King George VI, Rodan, the Sulu Sea, and a gay and lesbian running club in California have in common? The answer is George Takei, who is best known for his role as Hikara Sulu, a helmsman on the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek series. Although he was part of the main cast, he was one of the less developed characters. Surprisingly, unlike his more dominant counterparts such as William Shatner, and Leonard Nimoy, Takei’s stardom gets brighter and brighter as his fanbase expands.

Takei, who was born in America to a Japanese family, was named after King George VI because his father was an anglophile. Ironically, Takei is famous for his deep voice and articulation while King George VI was the stammering leader, more recently popularized in the 2010 movie, The King's Speech.

Takei's family endured hardships and humiliation throughout and after WWII when they were forced to live in internment camps in Arkansas and California, and then turned back out to a biased postwar United States. While he was destined to a life in the limelight, some of his early roles, to his dismay, included playing stereotypical Asian characters, and he even did the voiceovers for the Japanese monster film, Rodan. His most famous performance was as Sulu on Star Trek. When the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, wanted to name this pan-Asian character he choose the name of the Sulu Sea because it touches multiple shores.

Takei has been with his husband Brad Altman (pictured top, lower right) since 1988, whom he met in a gay and lesbian running club in California. They married in 2008. Takei is a proponent of gay rights (It’s OK to be Takei), and has been active in politics, human rights, and Japanese-American relations. One of the less predictable twists of Takei’s life has been his social media success. He currently has more than 8 million likes on Facebook. 

I watched a documentary last night about Takei, To Be Takei, which is an intimate look at his personal and professional life. He speaks about gaman, the Japanese term for enduring with dignity, and that he does not believe in negativity. He also explains what it was like for him to be in the closet; the façade and the layers of tension. He likens the barbed wired fence of his internment camps from his childhood to the obstacles people have put up against gay people. It is difficult to separate the thinking of his Buddhist upbringing and the philosophy he absorbed from Star Trek: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. I liked most his comment that he is the beneficiary of his own optimism.

Watch the trailer for To Be Takei:

When asked in the documentary what his favorite episode was of Star Trek, Takei quickly offered his feverish role in Naked Time:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Opening a Can of Wormholes: Speaking to Your Children About the Future, As in Sci Fi

by Drew Martin
At a certain point in children’s lives, especially the teenage years, parents should sit down and talk to them about the future. I do not mean about higher education, choosing a career, marriage, buying a home, life insurance...etc. I mean they should talk to them about the future, as in science fiction.

Think of it as opening a can of wormholes. Parents will learn infinitely more about their kids' fantasies and their young, creative minds by exploring the science fiction genre than by asking run-of-the-mill questions that will only yield one-word answers or a shrug of their shoulders such as "How was school today? What did you learn today? What are you thinking about?"

Last night, as I was home with my three kids while my wife worked an evening shift, I asked my 14-year-old son (who answers everyone question with the word "ish") about time travel. To my surprise he launched into a very eloquent response about how in the future there will be one language, which will be shared by humans and computers; a special coding language that will replace the languages of our planet and existing computer languages.

Then I offered my own poor-man’s guide to time travel that I was contemplating earlier in the day, which led to the evening discussion. I mused that one way to time travel back in time is to show up an hour early for a party to which you were invited and you can see what the place is like before you are supposed to be there. Many of us have shown up early or arrived late for something but we are so embarrassed or miffed by the misstep that we do not take in the moment and look at it as a type of time travel. For a culture so interested in the idea of time travel it is interesting how militant we are about being on time and how being late or too early, being in the right (or wrong) place at the wrong time, and being born at the wrong century are all negative.