2020 can best be described as the Year of Suck. A global Pandemic, followed by rapid unemployment, children and teachers stuck in their homes for schooling, thousands of deaths. Yes, this is going to be remembered as the year best forgotten.
Unfortunately as I write this in late January 2021, we're not out of the woods yet (why do they use that term? I enjoy walking in the woods, it's quite comforting, and...oh my, got lost again). There are new COVID strains being discovered every week, and vaccinations are just beginning to roll out. Most people in the know are saying we may not be out of this mess, and back to some form or normalcy, until later this Fall!
But there are good things to look forward to. Even though the movie theaters remain closed, we will be able to stream some pretty decent films in the comfort of our homes. Godzilla vs Kong is one example. It may not become Oscar material ( who needs the Oscars anyway?), but it's the kind of popcorn movie we need these days.
Locally our R.I. PEG Access cable TV show Sci-Fi Journal, is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2021! That makes us the longest-running PEG Access show in the State! Something for the RISFC to be proud. And though many SF Conventions have been postponed or canceled, many have taken the online route, and offered their programs via Zoom or other teleconference. Pay your membership fee, sign in to the Panel you like, and avoid The Great Unwashed. Works for me!
So goodbye 2020, hello 2021 with all its cautious enthusiasm. With patience, perseverance, and a little faith in each other, we can get through this. Again.
Guess what? 2020 still sucks. Back in April I wrote about how the COVID crisis would shut down all forms of entertainment, including Conventions and movie theaters, at least for a few months. Well, I was wrong, and it looks like the shutdown will continue for the foreseeable future.
On top of dealing with a deadly virus this year, the Summer months have brought to light the tragedy of racial injustice, with some police officers making decisions that have cost lives, and caused an uproar in the United States. Let me say for the record that I support our local police (my brother is a retired ex police officer), don't agree with defunding, and think that bad cops should fired and/or prosecuted if deemed necessary.
Which kinda sorta brings me to the topic of racial equality and the science fiction community. The RISFC has always been an organization that accepts people of all races. Hey, we started this as a crew of Star Trek fans, so in our minds, our friends are not only black, white, yellow, red, and brown, but purple, green, orange, and all shapes and sizes! . Racial stereotypes do not exist in the typical sci-fi universe, nor are they tolerated in the R.I. Science Fiction Club.
If you show up for one of our meetings, you should expect to be treated with dignity and respect. Oh, and we'll probably want to know about which books you read, if you collect comics, your favorite TV shows and movies, the list goes on. You know, the important stuff.
During the next few months, expect RISFC meetings to be held via Zoom. It's not the same as in person, especially in light of the holidays coming up, which are usually our most popular events. But we'll get through this, all of us, and know that no matter how we gather, all are welcome. See you soon.
The reason why there hasn't been a new Graffiti article in a couple of months is because, well, you all know why.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has decimated life as we know it in this world, let alone SF fandom. As an Educator, I find myself a newbie in distance learning; which means sitting in front of a computer for a few hours each day, and perfecting the art of Zoom meetings. I also started a YouTube channel, where I provide videos on everything from learning Shapes and Colors, to really cool 'magic milk' demos ( I teach in Pre K).
Our lives now include wearing masks every time we go out in public, and getting together with anyone outside your home is frowned upon. Many people have lost their jobs, and getting back to work too soon may mean the risk of getting Covid 19, and dying. This is serious stuff, folks, the nightmare of Doomsday scenarios has become real.
What has this done to the world of Science Fiction fandom? Free Comic Book day will not happen this year, because all the Comic shops have closed. Comic publishers are releasing a limited number of books in the next few weeks, but how fans will get them still needs to be worked out. Here in Rhode Island, TerrorCon will not take place in June, and other Convention organizers are hoping that things are good enough to be able to hold their evens in July & August. But even if they get a green light to hold an event, will fans still be too apprehensive to attend? We all know about hygiene and the 'Convention Funk', geez, what happens if you throw in a deadly virus too?
But alas, all is not lost. The RISFC members have come up with unique ways to gather, including Saturday night 'Covid-19 Movie Nights', where we all queue up a movie on Tubi TV (a free streaming app), and chat during the movie. Check out our Facebook page on how you can join us. We also plan on holding some Facebook Live demos, and continuing our Theme nights. We're still stuck in our homes, and the Potluck dinners are gone for now, but this is a fun alternative.
Life as we know it will never be the same, but Humans are a resilient species, and we will survive and thrive. So until we can meet face to face again, see you at the Zoom/Google Meet/Facebook meeting. Oh, and now's a good time to read all those books you have sitting on the shelf.
Stay Safe & Take Care
How do you feel about Themed Events? For 2020, our RISFC board has decided to offer our members more than just a place to gather, we're adding Themes to most of the monthly meetings. We started with a Harry Potter Christmas, and in February it will be all things Star Wars. April we'll be focusing on Star Trek. It's fun to see how our members invent unique names for ordinary food items as part of our Potluck dinners too. Can't wait to see who brings the Klingon dish.
The rest of the meetings up until June will include our Annual Sci-Fi Trivia Night, and we're taking another try at a Board Games event too. But we still have the latter part of the year after the Summer, to organize more Theme meetings. So what's your preference? Do you want to see a Dr. Who night? Are B Movies your thing? Are you a fan of Steampunk or Cyberpunk? Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. Be sure to check the Meetings section of this site, as well as our Facebook pages, for more information.
See you soon!
2020 means it's the beginning of a new decade. Think about that for a minute. The past 10 years has seen lots of change in our lives. Personally, my wife and I saw our daughter grow up, graduate from college, and get married. I went back to my first love of working with children, this time in a school setting. The fact that I am in a Special Needs classroom makes it that much more awesome!
There have been changes in the R.I. Science Fiction Club too. In the beginning of this decade we changed the format of 'Graffiti', from a paper newsletter that we actually mailed to our members each month, to the online presence we see today. Admittedly, it's just a shell of what we offered in the past. You can largely blame technology and being able to access immediate information on your phone for that one.
I was looking through old paper copies of Graffiti, and noticed one common thread; members enjoyed writing articles about favorite TV shows, or books, or movies, and a couple of us contributed some pretty neat artwork too. We contributed to writing forums, presented 'The Adventures of The Gang', and members eagerly waited each month to see their part of the stories in print. It was 'tons of fun', and I miss those days.
But our advancements in tech, that gives us the ability to access information immediately as fore mentioned, has also isolated us. In the world of SF, if you are a Dr. Who fan, or a Star Wars aficianado, or live and breath Trek, you don't even have to leave your house to communicate with like-minded fans. They're accessed in seconds on your phone, tablet, or computer. In opening up the world to everyone, we have also isolated ourselves to the Tribe of Trek, or the Tribe of Firefly, etc. Differences of opinion, or even different Sci-Fi genres, are now rejected or even scorned upon.
So what does this mean for the next 10 years, and the RISFC? As I write this in late December, we have around 16-20 active members. We used to have close to 30-50. For the Club to have a future, it needs to adapt to the times. I see us working more closely with other fan clubs in Rhode Island, uniting the tribes, and there are quite a few of them. Collaborating with these organizations on things like meeting places, shared events, our presence at Conventions, will benefit the members of all these groups.
As Chairman, expect me to reach out to these clubs in 2020. I'm also going to review what activities we currently offer: some traditional events we'll keep, because members like them, but let's expand into new territory. That means everything from reviewing how we produce Sci-Fi Journal, to starting new projects.
So here's to a new decade, one where I'm admittedly excited and apprehensive. But when you are surrounded by family and friends like we share in the RISFC, the next 10 years will be great.
Happy New Year!
2020 will be a big year for streaming services. There's Apple TV, Disney +, HBO Max, NBC's Peacock, Quibi, YouTube TV , Sling, the list goes on.
For Sci-Fi fans, it gives new meaning to the term F.O.M.O., or 'fear of missing out.' Let's see: I'm a huge Star Trek fan, but I really don't want to invest in CBS All Access, because, quite frankly, besides having all the Trek shows available, there's nothing on this streaming service I want to watch. Yes, I'm missing out on Discovery, the new Picard series, Short Treks, and the upcoming animated ST series, but those shows will eventually end up on blu ray or dvd (the first two seasons of Discovery are available now). So this Trek fan doesn't mind waiting.
My wife and I subscribe to Netflix, Disney +, and Starz (we're both huge fans of their Outlander series). We also get Amazon Video thanks to our Prime subscription. There's a lot of great SF on all those platforms, so I don't really feel like I'm missing out. And my Roku & Firestick give us access to other apps with plenty of SF, Fantasy, & Horror choices.
If I do have any sense of this F.O.M.O., it's when I look at the bookcase in my Nerd Cave. It is stocked full of paperbacks I have purchased over the years, but have yet to crack open and read. I have 3-4 books left in Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series. I have almost every ShadowRun novel printed, but still have 2-3 unread. I received a couple of Trek novels last Christmas that are still in my read pile.
So I guess when it comes to fear of missing out, perhaps we should look at it from a different perspective: check the nooks and corners of your life for the things you already have, waiting to be discovered. You'll find yourself so busy that you won't have time to experience F.O.M.O.
Have a joyous, blessed Christmas Holiday !
Well, this is a nice surprise. After a 4 years + hiatus, I was re -elected as Chairman of the Rhode Island Science Fiction Club, an organization that some close friends and I founded 32 years ago! Quite frankly, I am greatly humbled.
First, a huge thanks to outgoing Board Members: Ian Kingston, Chairman; Calvin Watts III, Vice Chair; Maddy Kingston, Treasurer; and Barbara Kingston, Events Chair. Your leadership and enthusiasm gave us some fun, creative events and meetings, and is greatly appreciated. They've told me they're not going anywhere, and I look forward to sharing more Club adventures with them.
Now, what to do now that I am in the 'hot seat' again? What can you expect from this slate of Board members for 2019-2021? It's a collaborative effort, but two issues pop up for me:
1. Find a way to increase our membership. I see a huge advertising campaign ahead of us. We've self identified as the 'best kept science fiction club in Rhode Island.' That has to change. If you do a Google search for science fiction clubs in R.I., we show at the top of the list. Let's expand on that.
2. Provide a series of Meetings and Events that will please our diverse age group. RISFC members started with Baby Boomers, but we also have Gen X, and Millennials in the mix. Baby boomers like me (I'm 60) are at the stage where we like to sit around, eat, and discuss everything from the number 42, to why there's too much TV to watch. The other age groups enjoy actvities that are very social, they use their phones for everything, and prefer events that give them meaning, like charity work. That's the balance this new Board will have to deal with. Not an easy task, but very do-able
So 'Chief Concerns' once again becomes 'Chief Concerns, the Chairman's Column'. The only thing I can guarantee on my part, is that being a member of the RISFC is going to be tons of fun!
It's nearly the end of August, 2019, and boy, what a Summer it has been!
The most important event for me has been the marriage of our daughter, Madison, to a wonderful man, Ian. Both are life-long members of the RISFC (being born into the Club has that effect), and both are Co Hosts of our R.I. PEG access show, Sci-Fi Journal.
What else? This has been the 'Summer of Many Conventions': Pintastic, ConnectiCon, Terrificon, BarryCon V ( a local board game event), RKO Con (celebrating all things Rocky Horror), and the newest, ConToons, which focuses on all those Saturday morning cartoons we all watched and loved. I believe that sugary cereals will be available that day too. Next up in November is Rhode Island ComicCon. The RISFC will have a presence there, so watch for us.
I have to admit, I don't enjoy the end of Summer. I don't get all goose-bumpy over the thought of needing warmer clothes, everything is pumpkin flavored, and pretty soon, I'll be up to my ass in snow. Nope, don't like it one bit. While I love my job as a TA in a local public school, I kind of liked the piece and quiet you don't get in the school halls every day. But that's my Introvert talking, so pay little attention.
The end of Summer 2019 also brings a new election of Board Members to the RISFC at our September meeting. If you're a member of this gang, please attend this one, because your vote will shape the course of our Club for the next two years. We celebrate our 32nd Anniversary that month too! So goodbye Summer 2019, it's been fun.
What do you expect from a Science Fiction Fan Club? For most, it’s the chance to get together with like-minded people, who share a common interest and love for all things Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and yes, a little Horror thrown in for good measure.
Most meeting nights for the RISFC consist of some type of theme, like a Trivia Night or Halloween party, but the majority of the time, it’s just ‘hanging around’, swapping stories and theories about the latest TV show, movie, book, or comics. We also go to lots of Conventions.
My question for you is: should that be enough?
Here’s the thing. I’m 60, and at this age, my basement is chock full of cool stuff I’ve collected over the decades, I still read comics, I try to whittle down my too-long book reading list, and I enjoy the Summer Movie season. I look forward to getting together with my friends each month, but lately, I have to be honest, I’ve been wanting more. Let me expand on that.
My upbringing was Catholic Christian, and as a Teen, my family was heavily involved in CYO (Catholic Youth Organization). Most of my growing up years consisted of Prayer Meetings, singing at Saturday night Mass, and Youth Retreats. It taught me that a person is at their best, when being of service to others. Today, that’s spilled over into my career, working with special needs students.
How does this fit into a Club like the RISFC? I look at the two ‘Can’t Stop The Serenity’ events we’ve hosted, and am proud of the work we did for that charity. We’ve gone back and forth about helping other charities, but have gotten nowhere (oh, we did also collect supplies for a local animal shelter). I look at guys like Matches Malone, who dresses as Batman, and donates his time to TONS of charity work; a perfect example of serving others, while enjoying his love for comics, and the SF genre. I think we should be doing more of this. In fact, I think we should consider ‘rebranding’ ourselves as an organization with members who donate their time and talent to charity work FIRST, and hang around talking about all things SF second.
An example: “Do you like all things Sci-Fi? Check. Do you think the world these days is a conflicted, intolerant mess, and that people should step up and help others, instead of tearing each other down? Check. Do you want to make a positive difference in this world, working to actually solving problems, instead of just complaining? Check. Then do I have a Sci-Fi Club for you: the RISFC!
But, but, that takes time and energy! Yes, yes it does, but it’s actually possible to find a nice balance between charity work, and enjoying this SF world we love so much. This 60 year old RISFC Founding Father thinks we should be doing more to help others, which in the end, will likely attract more members. We may alienate and lose some who are only interested in ‘sitting around’, but if we want the RISFC to have a future, this needs to be done.
Think about it, and please offer some (constructive) feedback.
If you would like to contribute letters, opinion pieces, artwork, etc. to Graffiti, please submit your work to:
Contributors will not be paid, but will be recognized for their work.
The Rhode Island Science Fiction Club