Seattle: The Birth of the Geek Capital of the World

My claim that Seattle is the Geek Capital of the World grows stronger all the time.

We currently have the King Tut Exhibit at the Science Center.
Our Science Fiction Museum is about to open an Icons of Science Fiction Exhibit.
And we have a growing battle between a Real Life Superhero and a Real Life Supervillian.
And I will be writing about all of those in the future.
But today rather than the future, I would like to talk about the past. Because if you want to know why Seattle is so prone to generate geek culture you have only to look to its History.
It is a history of conflict, con-artistry, sex, booze, political intrigue, violence, legal maneuvering, and a suspicious fire. I am at a lost as to why so far I can only find two cases where Hollywood has used that history in screenplays.
There is no way I am going to cover all of Seattle’s great history in this post. But I will highly recommend three books if you are so inclined. The first is Sons of the Profits by Bill Speidel. If you want to really understand Seattle’s history for just how entertaining it is, this is the book for you. Its tone is light, and points out how the fate of the region turned on a dime….or a nickel, or however much they could make.
Speidel also wrote Doc Maynard: the man who invented Seattle which covers the history of one of the key city founders. Finally Skid Row by Murray Morgan, and yes, that term was coined in Seattle.
So what are the points of interest that make Seattle history great?
You have the feud between Arthur Denny and his party, and David “Doc” Maynard. Denny and party were Republican Methodist and teetotaler. Maynard was a Democrat and he was definitely not a teetotaler. Each settled in different parts of the area, but close enough that it was clear that Seattle would be made up of both their land.
And how did this play out. Well look at a map of downtown Seattle today.
See how parts of it seem to come together haphazardly. This is the legacy of two men building up their territory with no regard to the other, and some more than healthy stubbornness.
Maynard was not well liked by the other members of the Seattle establishment for things like being a Democrat, His friendship with Chief Sealth (also known as Chief Seattle whom the city was named for) and the fact that he made several business deals designed to boost the city rather than line his pocket. Seriously there is a movie in there.
Denny and friends also objected to a theory of Maynard’s about what was needed to help a frontier town grow. Maynard had a hand in the development of Cleveland OH. One of the lessons he learned there was one way to help an area grow was to promote prostitution. To this end he encouraged one John Pinnell to set up shop. He also worked with Mary Ann Conklin AKA Mother Damnable in setting up her brothel. Just to be clear neither Pinnell nor Conklin set up the infamous Seattle Seamstresses union. That was Madam Lou Graham who was after Maynard’s time. Graham however did use her profits from the “Seamstresses” to help finance much of Seattle’s turn of the Century development.
A counter point to all this fun and games was Asa Mercer. Mercer understood the basics of Maynard’s theory, that in a frontier town the men get lonely and female companionship helps them and in turn helps the area. Mercer had a different idea how to go about it. Between 1864 and 1866 Mercer made two trips to the east coast to recruit women to come back to Seattle to find husbands. He managed to bring 46 women to the area. If your family has roots in the Pacific Northwest going back several generations, you have over 70% odds of being descended from the Mercer girls. A 60’s TV Show Here comes the Brides was based on this story.
Oh and there was that fire.
On June 6th 1889 a fire broke out that would claim 32 city blocks. Despite the damage only one death was reported, a boy James Goin, and there is some dispute if he actually died in the fire.
No one is sure what caused the fire, the story of it starting in a paint shop were just rumors at the time. But what is sure is that it was the best thing that happened to downtown Seattle.
You see downtown Seattle was basically built at sea level. This was great for the lumber mill, but not so great for the businesses, as every high tide the toilets would flood, amongst other problems. When the city was rebuilt after the fire it was built up higher avoiding the flooding. There was also a economic boost from the jobs the reconstruction created. While there is no evidence that the fire was set deliberately, that fact that it was more blessing than curse does lead to some speculation
This also led to a Seattle having an interesting tourist attraction. The series of Underground passages and basements have come to be known as the Seattle Underground. Just think about an area like this, and then consider what must have gone on during prohibition. And do not ask my sister and I what we may or may not have done during our misspent youth. If you visit the area you can take a tour of the safer parts of this. The Seattle Underground was used as a major plot point in the TV movie The Night Strangler staring Darrin McGavin, which was a sequel to the Night Stalker.
And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. Look at this and tell me that there is not a movie or HBO series just begging to be made.
For me this weird clash of uptight moralism, hedonism, profiteer and roguish behavior set the stage for the geek friendly city that I call home. 

The Avengers: The movie I have waited for my whole life

Sometimes when writing an article things just don’t come out the way you want.

I’ve tried three times to write about the Avengers movie. In the end what stymied me was that with it’s phenomenal success. Everyone has written about it, about the effect it will have on future Marvel movies, future comic book based movies and the careers of the creative people involved.

If you are reading this blog I am going to assume you have seen the Avengers, are going to see the Avengers, or ended up here by mistake.
So this is not going to be a review of the Avengers.
This is going to be a personal examination of how I felt watching the Avengers.
As I am sure I have stated before I grew up reading comics. As far back as I can remember my dad would read me comic books at bed time. He used comics to teach me to read. So I have been literally reading comic books all my life.
And I never thought I would get to see a movie like the Avengers.
As I was growing up, any translation of comic book heroes to live action were lack luster at best. The 70’s and 80’s had several Marvel heroes on TV, Spider-man, Hulk, Captain America and Doctor Strange. Of all of them Spider-man was the closest to making the character I grew up with.
Really the first two Superman movies were the gold standard for years.
And getting multiple heroes together in one movie, forget it.
There was one attempt in the in 1979. It was Legends of the Superheroes. It started Adam West as Batman. I think right there you can guess how bad it was.
In 1997 there was an attempt to make a Justice League TV show. It was an adaptation of the Giffen and DeMatteis run, which was already humorous. They cast David Ogden Stiers as the Martian Manhunter. Here is the result.
So I pretty much gave up on a cool team up happening.
Then Marvel decided to start making movies.
The moment Nick Fury showed up post credits in Iron Man a sense of excitement started. Could they really pull it off?
And as we have seen, the answer is yes.
As Nash Bozard of Radio Dead Air (an online show you should be watching) put it, it was the best possible Avengers movie that could be made.  
Watching it I realized that I had been waiting my whole life for this movie. It was true to the characters, it had action, it had story, and it had heart.
The bar has been raised and I for one cannot wait to see where we go from here.
Oh, and this is for you Nash

Review: Ninja the Mission Force

Let me introduce you to Ed Glaser. He is the owner and executive producer of Dark Maze Studios, an independent producer of films and web series which prides itself on the micro budgets of its production.

The latest offering from Dark Maze Studios is the 10 part web series Ninja the Mission Force. To explain this series I first have to provide some background.

In the 1980s there was a film maker named Godfrey Ho. Ho would obtain the rights to distribute various unreleased Asian action movies. To improve the U.S. appeal for these films he would shoot footage of caucasian actors dressed as ninjas and edited them into the films and then overdub everything to attempt to make them mesh as one story. What resulted was series of movies with a high WTF factor.
Glaser took this concept and ran with it.
The main plot of NTMF is a battle between Gordon (a ninja working for Interpol) and Bruce (leader of the Evil Ninja Empire) to gain control of the seven avian ninja warrior statues (seven rubber ducks in ninja costumes) that will grant the possessor of all seven ultimate ninja power.  
Gordon (played by Glaser) is also dealing with the mysterious disappearance of his wife (played by Sarah Lewis) years ago. This is mitigated somewhat by a virtual avatar of her he interacts with through her self-videotaping project she completed before she vanished.
Bruce (Played by Brad Jones, better known as internet reviewer The Cinema Snob) has anger management issues. Every time one of his minions disappoints him (fails to defeat Gordon, loses the formula to create a zombie horde, gets his lunch order wrong, etc.) he feeds them to his just off screen tiger.
Both have agents that are out in the world searching for the avian ninja warrior statues. These agents are represented through scenes form public domain movies that are edited into each episode. Taking it a step further than Ho, the movies used are often as far from a ninja movie as you can get, including Orson Wells’ The Stranger, John Travolta’s Boy in the Plastic Bubble, and the original Night of the Living Dead. The new dubbed dialog takes these in new directions. The scenes from Boy in the Plastic Bubble are the set up for the Zombie horde and Night of the Living Dead features dogs whose brains have been put into human bodies and set after Gordon’s agents. In keeping with the spirit of the Ho movies, every episode has the word “ninja” in the title.
The overall tone of the show is absurd camp. The ninja fights are staged to highlight the fact that none of the actors have any martial arts training, and yet are presented as master fighters. The first episode features Gordon fighting a cheese ninja and overcoming him using his knowledge of bacon fu.
Each episode is 10 to 15 minutes long. This allows them to move the story along, tell their jokes, and not wear out their welcome.
The biggest strength of the show is also its greatest weakness. The over the top campiness will endear it to some and turn off others.
Overall I find Ninja the Mission force to be an excellent example of a web series. It combines it low budget and campy nature, with some cleaver writing and total commitment by the cast to create a unique program.
Final grade for Ninja the mission for is B+
You can find Ninja the Mission Force online at


Site update

Sorry I missed last Saturday’s posting. A combination of illness and the article I was working on not coming out the way I hoped led to that happening. I am working on a post for tomorrow.

I’m still working on the move to the domain. I am waiting on one last element to be finished before I make the move. Once the move is completed I will get to work on setting up the Podcast.

Starting with tomorrow’s post I will be adding a rating system to any reviews. I will be using an A through F grading system with A+ being an all time classic, C being enjoyable, but flawed, and F being please do not waste your time with the tripe.

Finally I will not be getting a chance to see Avengers until tomorrow night. I will review it, but it will be a special mid-week post.