Popular Culture

Pemberville Opera House hosting Evening with Cole Porter

From PEMBERVILLE OPERA HOUSE The Live! In The House Concert Series will present an Evening with Cole Porter performed by heartland sings on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pemberville Opera House. The performers offer a glimpse of what it would be like to be entertained by Porter himself at the piano surrounded by friends, who happen to be great singers. Tickets are $12 from Beeker’s General Store, at the door or by contacting Carol Biley at 419-287-4848, carol@pembervilleoperahouse.org or www.pembervilleoperahouse.org Heartland Sings is a nonprofit vocal music production company based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Founded in 1997, by Maestro Robert Nance, Heartland Sings has since grown into a broad based vocal arts company, consisting of full-time and part-time administrative and artistic staff. For nearly two decades, Heartland Sings has been changing the lives of participants and patrons through song. Heartland Sings entertains and enriches audiences within a 225-mile radius of Fort Wayne, with the purpose of serving as a professional, educational resource for the vocal arts, cultivating a community of artistic and cultural appreciation, and providing performance opportunities to area vocalists and musicians. Heartland singers are Maestro Robert Nance, president and artistic director, on piano with principal vocal artists Elaina Robbins, soprano, Ashlee Bickley, mezzo-soprano, Mark Phillips, tenor, Jerome Síbulo, baritone, and Ian Williams, bass-baritone.

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Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Retro finds room to grow

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kayla Minniear said she’s had her eye on the storefront at 127 S. Main in downtown Bowling Green for a while. The space wasn’t available when she and her husband, Jon, opened Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Retro two years ago. So they settled into the former Mills Jewelry store a half block south on the other side of the street.  Now the shop has moved into those more spacious quarters across the street. “We had just outgrown that space,” Jon Minniear said. “We didn’t have enough space to put stuff out. We loved the old space, but this is bigger.” Now, he said, he’s not tripping over everything. Opening the store was something the couple discussed before they were married.  Back when they were dating, Kayla Minniear said, they started collecting Nintendo games, and that expanded to other vintage items. Having a storefront to sell the surplus seemed a natural development. Rock ’Em Sock ’Em sells video games dating to the Atari era, pop culture themed  items, action figures, vintage toys,  and some manga merchandise. They not only sell, but they also buy these items. “We have a little something for everybody,” he said. The storefront has a large vestibule that now has arcade games. That large entryway was one of the storefront’s appeals, Kayla Minniear said. One of the shop’s back rooms will be equipped for arcade game competition. Another, Jon Minniear said, will be used to display art by the Black Sheep Shack. The company run by Caroline Lippert, Kayla Minniear’s mother, also did the signage for the shop. The shop is doing well, John Minniear said. Because of Bowling Green State University, every year brings a new group of customers. Some customers who’d just discovered the shop this fall, even helped the couple move. “We’ve made a lot of great friends, customers who come in regularly,” he said. A year after Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Retro opened, Cameron’s Comics also opened on Main Street. Then in spring, at the encouragement of the Minniears, Joe Busch opened The Stacked Deck gaming shop…


Author Adam Alter warns about the dangers of being hooked on electronics

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Writer Adam Alter believes technology has an addictive power over people. He should know.  In his talk Monday at Bowling Green State University, Alter related his own experience with the game Flappy Bird. He was on a six-hour flight from Newark to Los Angeles. He had plans for all he would accomplish in that time. He started by playing the game. Six hours and a continent later, he was still playing the game. “I had lost all sense of the passage of time.” Alter was on campus because his book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” was chosen as the campus’ Common Read. It raised, said Sheila Roberts, acting vice provost of academic affairs, themes that are familiar and  “frankly a little bit uncomfortable.” Speaking before a packed ballroom mostly of students, Alter described how people’s involvement with technology is increasingly taking over that part of our lives not devoted to work, sleep, and the other necessities of life. That free time “where all the magic happens.” Alter said he deleted Flappy Birds, and its developer Dong Nguyen, in a fit of conscience, even had the game pulled from app stores even though it was making $75,000 a day in advertising and sales. Alter doesn’t see Apple, Facebook, and the other tech giants as following suit. Though, he said, they seem aware of the dangers and are instituting some changes. Alter said he was prompted to write the book after reading a profile of Apple founder Steve Jobs in The New York Times. The reporter, Nick Bilton, commented to Jobs that his kids must love the iPad that had recently been released. Jobs replied they didn’t have one. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” In exploring further, Alter found that Jobs was not alone. His attitude about his children’s engagement with technology was typical of those in the tech industry. This is akin, Alter said to the belief among drug dealers: “Never get high on your own supply.” The author noted that many…


Pop culture scholar recalls when comics were considered the scourge of the nation’s youth

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Banning books never seems to go out of style. To make that point, before Charles Coletta started his talk “The Seduction of the Innocent: The Anti-Comic Book Crusade of the 1950s and Beyond” he listed entertainments his students in Popular Culture classes have been forbidden to read or watch. Those include Harry Potter, “South Park,” “The Simpsons,” and  “Sponge Bob Squarepants,” a recent addition. Then he quizzed his audience in Jerome Library. “The A-Team” was a surprise, but “Family Guy” and “Bevis and Butthead” were staples of the do-not-watch list. Recently the reprinting of a classic comic story   “The Monster Society of Evil,” which hasn’t been reprinted in 30 years, was canceled because some of the characterization are racist, including depictions of Japanese from World War II and stereotypes of African-Americans that are “horrible,” Coletta said. And when just over a year ago the United Nations tried to name Wonder Woman as its fictional good will ambassador, there was an outcry over her skimpy outfits and that the superhero was not a good role model for women. Those complaints echo what was said about her 70 years ago. Because banning stuff never goes out of style, every year the Friends of University Libraries hosts an event to mark Banned Books Week.  Coletta’s focus on Thursday was on a crusade led by psychiatrist  Wertham against comics for all manner of offenses, particularly promoting violence. Superheroes, he said, was fascist role models who promote the idea that problems were solved with superior strength and violence. “I think Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry,” he once stated.  Wertham also complained about unrealistic body images projected by female and male characters, racism, and embedded sexual messages. Wonder Woman, he claimed, was into bondage — a claim that proved not so outlandish when it learned that her creator William Moulton Marston was as well. But Wertham also said that her strength and independence, and hanging out with Amazons indicated she was a lesbian. And Batman and Robin’s relationship, he said, was “like a wish…


BGSU library will host talk on efforts to censor comics

From UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES Charles Coletta will speak on Seduction of the Innocent: The Anti-Comic Books Crusade of the 1950s & Beyond Thursday, September 27, at  1 p.m. in Pallister Conference Room, Jerome Library This presentation highlights the backlash against comic books during the 1950s following the publication of Dr. Frederic Wertham’s book The Seduction of the Innocent: The Influence of Comic Books on Today’s Youth. The presentation includes a discussion of efforts to ban comics today. Wertham’s text fueled widespread fears that comic books were a leading cause of juvenile delinquency, sexual perversion, and rising crime rates. He even claimed heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were promoting immorality. His anti-comics crusade led to Congressional hearings, book burnings and the rise of the Comics Code Authority, an industry self-censorship board that lasted until the early 21st century.   About the presenter Dr. Charles Coletta is a lecturer in BGSU’s Department of Popular Culture, teaching a variety of courses related to comics and popular culture. He has served as a contributing writer to several academic texts on comics. In 2006, he assisted BGSU alumna Eva Marie Saint in preparation for her role as Martha Kent in Superman Returns. He is co-chair of the 2019 BGSU Batman Conference at BGSU.


Aretha Franklin’s spirit resonates throughout American culture

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Aretha Franklin was there to sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” The singer, who died Thursday of pancreatic cancer in her hometown of Detroit, had to be part of the celebration of the first African-American to become president. “She’s of a generation that knows a time when that seems like that would never come true, and it has come true,” said Angela Nelson who chairs the Ethnic Studies Department at Bowling Green State University. “She was there to sing and be part of this thing we thought would never happen and has happened.” Franklin was born in 1942, the same year as Nelson’s mother. Franklin had a bond with Obama. She could move him to sing as he did during a campaign stop in Detroit or move him to tears as she did during her version of “Natural Woman,” during the Kennedy Center Honors concert honoring the songwriter Carole King. Her music was so embedded in the culture, Nelson said, she’s not sure when she first heard her, probably on the radio. But what made an impression on Nelson was “Amazing Grace,” a 1972 album that returned Franklin to her gospel roots even including preaching by her father C.L. Franklin. Nelson remembers hearing this album growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s in her maternal grandparents’ South Carolina home while her mother was in graduate school. These gospel roots, Nelson, whose first degree was in vocal performance, said, served the singer well throughout her career, as they did others with big voices who crossed over into the world of pop. “Singing is like breathing for them.” Few retained the link to gospel as much as Franklin did. “She maintained that connection.” Coming up in her father’s Detroit church, she started young. That was not unusual, said Nelson, who studies female gospel singers. If youngster showed ability that talent was put to use in the church. “God-gifted her so you use that gift.” “For people who grew up in the church, their training is almost unmatched,”…


Cousins team up to tell story of family life in the inner city

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually book signings don’t include blood pressure tests. Antrone “Juice” Williams, though, always includes the health screening at events he’s involved in. Since he almost died from a stroke while working out back in 2012 he’s been an advocate for stroke awareness. That was the focus of the first book he wrote with his cousin Damien Womack. “A Walking Testimony Stroke Survivor: My Second Chance” was about his recovery, an ongoing process, from his near-death experience. It was meant to be an inspiration and encouragement for others facing this situation, and a warning about the necessity of monitoring blood pressure and other health indicators. The former semi-professional and college basketball player has devoted his life to raising awareness of the dangers of strokes and helping youth. Now Williams and Womack have written a second book “The P.I.L.L.A.R.S.” Originally, Womack said, this was supposed to be part of the first book, the story of how Williams arrived at the gym in Augusta, Maine, where he was felled by a stroke. But the publisher decided, Womack said, it was better to keep the book focused on the inspirational story. “The P.I.L.L.A.R.S.” – that stands for The People I Love, Last and Remain Sacred” – reflects on the families that raised the cousins. While it’s told with love, “it’s more in your face,” Womack said. “It means you’re going to run the gamut of emotions.” The book takes the reader to the inner city streets of Chicago, where Williams grew up, and Detroit, where Womack grew until moving to rural Ohio to be with his father. Each had their strengths. Williams thrived on the neighborhood basketball courts playing street ball. Womack did his best in the classroom. Neither had an easy childhood, coming from working poor families in tough neighborhoods with gangs always off in the wings. Their families were loving, but many of them tried to salve the pains of life with alcohol leading to arguments and break-ups. And, Williams said, there was the shadow of chronic illness that no one wanted to talk about. Williams…