Feature Voices Stories

Who are you calling weird?

Mainstream media's misplaced judgment of fan culture

Expo2013With the annual Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo coming up this weekend, sci-fi and fantasy fans from across the city and beyond are preparing to flock to Stampede Park for a chance to meet up with fellow fans, spend far too much money on overpriced merchandise and welcome some of the industry's biggest stars.

Geek, nerd, dork, whatever you want to call us, I am one and have been since I was five — or old enough to decide that my parents weren't reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone fast enough (I snatched the book away and finished it myself). In the 15 years that have followed, I never looked back. I tripped delightedly from one fandom to the next, happy to lose myself in one world after another.

I don't do anything half-assed. I put my whole self into everything from school to partying, and I think that translates to my life as a fan as well. It's just not in my nature to like things casually, a trait that a lot of us seem to share. Whether it's analyzing character development in The Lord of the Rings or shot gunning an entire series of Doctor Who in a weekend, I fully embrace my status as a fangirl.

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No harm, no foul?

Photo of star basketball player creates controversy, and forces review of 'truth' in photojournalism.

jalen brunson-1 copy copyCan a photo tell the "truth"?

It's an old debate. Some say pictures represent objective truth, while others claim they can be misleading.

When the Journal Star — a newspaper in Peoria, Illinois — recently published a photo on its website depicting a high school basketball player, Jalen Brunson, "flipping off" the opposing team's fans, it rekindled the argument and raised important ethical questions for photojournalists and editors.

Should photos be published if they only tell part of the story? What if they have the potential to cause harm?

The photo in question, taken by Ron Johnson, clearly shows Brunson with his hands raised above his head, the middle finger on each hand extended. It ran with the caption: "Jalen Brunson of Lincolnshire Stevenson makes a gesture to the Chicago Whitney Young crowd."

Brunson was apparently frustrated with a call made by the referee to wave off his successful 3-point shot because he was fouled before he made the attempt. Had he been fouled during the attempt, the basket would have counted.

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Opinion: Realtor says secondary suites are a small step forward

Miki Somos, founder of secondarysuitescalagary.com, weighs in on the issue

thumb Miki SomosAs the founder of secondarysuitescalgary.com, I am very passionate about and invested in this issue. In the past few years I've had the opportunity to hear all sides of the argument and have directly experienced the real need for secondary suites in Calgary.

I have personally participated in over eight secondary suite legalizations and new suite construction projects in Edmonton and also in two in Calgary. In the Northwest neighbourhood of West Hillhurst where I currently live, two homes directly across the street both have legal garage suites and there are three additional basement suites on my block. Even though I would like to, I am unable to build my own secondary suite in my home due to land size restrictions.

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Wearing my geeky past times

How clothes with super heroes on them help me express myself

geekcultureWhen I was a kid, I had to wear 'nice clothes' to school most days, which meant I had to wear clothes without my favourite Saturday morning cartoon characters on them. I would sit in class wearing a boring grey hoodie or a nice collared shirt, and I honestly didn't feel like myself.

Occasionally I was allowed to proudly wear Spider-Man or Batman t-shirts to school, but that was only when it was laundry day and I had nothing else left to wear. Sometimes I felt like I was putting all my favourite characters on the bench, and in some weird way I was betraying them.

These were the characters that came from stories I cared about as a kid, stories about the hero triumphing over evil and getting the girl. Even today when I go to watch movies like The Avengers or Batman, I manage to feel inspired to be a better person.

Now, whether it's laundry day or not, try to catch me not wearing a t-shirt or sweater with some kind of pop-culture reference on it. These range from obvious references, like a big spider across my chest, to the obscure, like the Master Splinter School of Ninjitsu.

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