National Museum of the American Indian

This past Monday I visited the National Museum of the American Indian all the way downtown by Whitehall Street and it was a great learning experience.

The entrance to the museum was free and I saw many beautiful things before I even got to the exhibits, there was one room where the ceiling was absolutely stunning and it was very impressive to think everything was done by hand. When I actually got to the exhibits I tried to keep an eye on things that related to the last comic book I had read, Journey into Mohawk Country, which was about the Iroquois in New York State and the journey of three Dutch men meeting some of the tribes. The two photos above were found in the Plains section, far from New York but I could’ve imagined the Iroquois tribes having maps and clothing of the same type. The artwork/map on the animal skin above were used to tell stories and travel in the tribes that corresponded to them. It made me think that the Native American’s in Upstate New York used similar maps since throughout the whole story the Dutch never noted any of the Native American’s using maps and they seemed to just track past travelers or they just knew where to go and having those types of maps seems to explain how they managed to do so. The clothing in the other photo seems like the type of clothing shown in the comic book when they traveled, not when they stayed at home, and it was interesting to see such clothing in person rather than just on the colorful pages of the graphic novel I read. All in all, the trip was beyond interesting and informative on the lives of the Native American’s that inhabited this land far before the Europeans that came after.

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Journey Into Mohawk Country

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Via Goodreads

Journey into Mohawk Country by George O’Connor is the tale of Harmen Meyndertsz Van den Bogaert and his journey with two of his mates from the bottom of Manhatas Island to Mohawk Country in seek of new friendships to strengthen the Dutch trade.

Coming from different cultures leads to clashes between the Native Americans and the Dutch explorers, but since the two sides were able to tolerate one another and even become friends in the end, the only underlying tension was prejudice coming from either side in the course of their travels.

A specific example of prejudice coming from the Dutch side is when Bogaert mentions the keepsake that most people keep as a sign of their faith and he seemed to have been a little put off by the fact that the keepsake in that tribe was a “marten’s head,” while Bogaert’s own keepsake is a cross he wears around his neck. So the difference between the two icons made Bogaert kind of step back from his reality and realize how far on each side of the spectrum the two cultures are.

An example of prejudice from the Native American side is every instance when Bogaert and his friends arrived at a new tribe. The masses of people that wanted to get a look at the light skinned foreign men that had just arrived never ceased to astonish Bogaert. He would constantly explain how they would “throw each other into the fire,” to take a peek at the Dutch explorers. It’s understandable that they never encounter light skinned people but to the Dutch men it could be taken offensively the more it occurs to them.

Overall, the book was a fun adventure from the point of view of the main Dutch explorer. I liked the fact that what was left untold by words was told by pictures and it broadened the actual content of the graphic novel and it’s plot. There were many cases of prejudice or bias but all those instances are completely understandable since the two types of cultures never really come together and they’re all from different places on earth. The same type of instances still happen all over the world and it’s due to the little amount of bridges between cultures even to this day.

The Arrival

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Via Pinterest

Shaun Tan’s beautiful graphic novel about the story of an immigrant and his journeys through his brand new world and life hit pretty close to home for most Americans. Being a country formed by immigrants makes this book all the more relatable when thinking of one’s own journey, or their parent’s, or their grandparent’s.

The audience experiences the journey of a man leaving his family behind in their home country to come to a better one before sending after them. He escapes the “creature” in his home and makes it to the dream world safely. After exploring and getting aided by other immigrants, the man manages to send after his wife and daughter. Before doing so, we see the man journey on a ship to the dream world, arriving and looking for a room, finding a very small one and making it as homey as possible with a photograph of his family, finding a pet that he goes almost everywhere with, looking for jobs, visiting the market and making friends, and finally the arrival of his family.

The Arrival captures the true immigrant experience in many ways. From the long journey to a new land, to leaving a family behind in hopes of a better future for them all. I found myself thinking of my parents arriving in this strange new land seeking better opportunities for themselves and the future family they were to have. The “creature” aspect of the comic was great and it made me think of communist leaders or any type of rebel group or terrorist groups in other countries and how they are part of someones decision to escape their reality and come to the “dream world” that Tan re-imagined in his book. Immigrants helping one another out was another really great and true point that the author drew about and it made me think of one of my favorite movies, Paraiso Travel (2008), in which the main character gets lost and a woman begins to help him; the woman’s husband begins to scold her for helping out a “miscreant” and she says if they don’t help each other who will?

Being out of place was also a huge part of the book and it made me think back to my Sports Management class. I love the class and all but the majority of the time it’s just the teacher talking about football or baseball and all the guys in the class getting riled up over something that I know absolutely nothing about. It makes me feel a bit inadequate about my knowledge in my own major, but then I think about how the majority of them would be absolutely lost in a class that just spoke about soccer (which would be my ideal class) and I just try to go along with it all.

The Arrival was overall very insightful in what it would be like to be an immigrant and putting in work to bring your family over, and it gave me an image of what my family members did when they arrived to this country. It was truly a beautiful story told through amazing illustrations and it had no need for words to accompany the drawings.

The Sun God vs. The Dark Knight

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Courtesy of houseofgeekery.com

Light vs. Dark, Day vs. Night, God vs. Satan, all very intriguing conversations to never mention on a first date (the same goes for politics and your stance on zodiac signs). But it’s definitely okay to it mention here on this blog, yes sir. Superman vs. Batman.

In an excerpt from Grant Morrison’s Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, Morrison discusses the origins of both of these famous superheroes and how they are similar and how they contrast. Superman was first introduced as the unstoppable force that was yet to be declared a hero or villain, we go on to meet his alter ego, Clark Kent, a seemingly insecure and weak journalist who pines after Lois Lane, his coworker, who thinks even less of him. His origin story of being a hero for the people, coming from a different planet, being nonhuman and superior, and fighting less menacing criminals compared to Batman, all come into play when the idea of him being a sort of Messiah and figure of light is contrasted against the brooding Batman.

Batman fights at night, is a sort of vigilante, fights darker villains, is a human and has a more powerful playboy type alter ego who comes from old money, Bruce Wayne. He couldn’t be more different from Superman and that’s why they’re pitted against each other. The God vs. the Devil or even, God vs. Man.

Morrison’s comparisons were at their peaks when bringing into play the idea of the two heroes shadowing as God and Lucifer, but along with the contrasts came the author’s similarities. Similarities such as the idea of superheros not being two dimensional and having alter egos, the mystery that came along with their presentation to the world, the need to have such heroes in order to escape our reality, and their fight for justice that eventually brings the two together when the Justice League is formed.

In Morrison’s excerpt, a lot was said about both heroes and interesting facts and concepts were formulated when exploring two of the biggest comic book figures to ever exist, but the most interesting focus was that of the two heroes being on completely different ends of the spectrum and how this correlates to our ideas of God and Satan.

Museum of the City of New York

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This past Saturday my Discover New York classmates and I made our way to the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem. I unsuccessfully took the 7 train which was then stopped at Queensboro Plaza, forcing me to take the N to then later transfer to an Uptown Bound 6 train to make it to my lovely destination. I arrived around 20 minutes early and waited patiently for the rest of my class and Professor, and when they finally did arrive (along with our lovely tour guide whose name was Erin I believe) we made our way to the third floor.

We took a look at some photographs, courtesy of Mel Rosenthal, before heading over to the Roz Chast exhibit which we were there to explore. The exhibit was fun to walk through, it was all very colorful, lively, and humorous. Bits of Chast’s memoir and another one of her graphic novels stood out to me the most.

Specifically, in her memoir, Chast wrote about her experience when her mother was on her deathbed and how she felt years after both her parents died. There was one page where she was visiting her mother and she explained that she lamented not having been better friends with her. Chast’s mother didn’t seem moved and it was typical of her to do so, but Chast explained she expected her mother to have agreed with her. That page showed me one time that another person’s heart had been broken which you don’t typically encounter in a comic form in a museum.

When our tour was over, I made my way to the second floor and took a look at an exhibit of the beginning of the city of New York. There was one painting I almost walked past that I’m glad I didn’t. I inched closer to this one painting and looked at it absentmindedly before taking a closer look. It was an early draft of the Forest Hills Gardens in Forest Hills, Queens. This particular painting struck me because I had spent the last four years or so constantly visiting and walking through the Gardens. Having gone to Forest Hills High School, the Gardens, Austin Street, and Rego Park become your backyard after your school day is over and it was the first time I had thought about the Gardens in a long time. It was cool to see what the Gardens were intended to look like and then imagine how they actually turned out and what they look like now.

The museum was a fun experience, and there was a great exhibit on movements in the city’s past and present as well. The painting of the Gardens caused me much nostalgia and Chast’s artwork, especially that of her memoir, struck me just as much. I’d gladly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone interested in the history of the greatest city in the world.

Hometown Hero

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After school on Wednesday (and after some thorough investigating throughout the day), I headed over to Sunnyside the day after the cast and crew of Spider-Man: Homecoming arrived. They had just filmed in Astoria the day before and the day after they headed over to the studios in Long Island City to film some explosions.

So I arrived at the supposed house of Peter Parker where they were filming earlier and I met some kid named Bryan who was just as ready and eager to meet Tom Holland as I was so we quickly did some more investigating in front of the fake Pizza Hut and Cricket that was just built for the movie and we headed over two blocks East.

We arrived just as they were about to start rehearsal for a stunt scene. We crossed the street and waited in the crowd till Tom came out. And when he did finally come out onto the fire escape we were all paying attention to, I yelled. If you haven’t already noticed I love the kid so much.

So we all cheered and waved and he waved back before going back in to change. Bryan and I were dying for attention from our fave so we waved for ten minutes straight, just us two in the crowd of people until he finally waved at us. Yes, Tom Holland waved at me. My life is complete.

After rehearsing a bit, Tom finally went back into the building a second time to suit up and finally start the actual stunt.

Spider-Man is sat at the edge of a fire escape while eating a sandwich or burger or something. He then answers his phone and talks for a bit before dropping his food. He goes after his food, sticks onto the fire escape, and shoots out a web to recover the snack before jumping back onto the edge of the fire escape.

If that doesn’t say Peter Parker, I don’t know what does.

I would’ve posted videos, but I got pretty vulgar and I was yelling the whole time in them so I decided against it.

I stayed for the whole rehearsal until they stopped at 7 for “lunch.” They finally filmed after they ate but I was long gone by then.

My friend Byran got to stay the whole night since he lived two blocks from where they were shooting and he got a handshake from Tom when they wrapped up!

I had one of the best days ever and I just wanted to share my adventure with Spider-Man before the movie comes out next summer.

P.S. I also saw Harry, Tom’s best friend, and it was amazing! He filmed the whole crowd at the end of rehearsals to show Tom and Tom later said on Instagram that he had the most rewarding day thanks to us!

 

(Another) Journey To Forbidden Planet

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It was 5:45 on a Saturday evening and I went into one of my frequent visited shops when I head to Manhattan, Forbidden Planet. I’m a fan of the store and I always end up dropping by after I visit my favorite bookstore that’s right next door. So, I walked in after a trip to Strand (the bookstore) with my best friend by my side, but this time I was on a mission to observe. We walked up and down the aisles as we took in the crowd in the back of the store. I observed a journal which was meant to look like the rug from The Big Lebowski and made a mental note to come back and buy it while my best friend, Noori, made note of the comic book series she read in middle school that was right in front of her.

We’ve been there plenty of times before so all we really observed was that it’s busier later in the day and especially on the weekends. Since I knew nothing out of the usual was going to jump out at me because it wasn’t going to be my first time visiting the awesome store, I decided to interview an employee there. I was in a desperate bustle to find someone that wasn’t already occupied, the first person that came to mind was the nice looking guy by the door but my friend and I kept looking in the back of the store. Of course, every employee that ever passed me was super busy and Noori kept insisting I just come back another day. I decided to go over to the guy that I decided upon long before and it turns out I made the best decision because Will, the employee I wanted to interview from the get-go, was the sweetest guy I could’ve asked to interview and it was so much fun to actually do! I did feel bad though because I was dressed terribly with a baseball cap and I looked super suspicious because I didn’t clean up nicely for my trip there, when in reality my hair got messed up during work in the morning and there was frizz everywhere so I had to cover up, sorry Will! So without further ado, here is my totally non-verbatim interview (because the notes I took were chicken scratch) with Will from Forbidden Planet (!!!):

P.S. Will if you’re reading this you’re my favorite employee at Forbidden Planet and thank you for the maybe seven(?) minutes of your valuable time and sorry if I mess up some of the following answers

Marcela: What’s a day like in your position? Basically what’s your job description?
Will: I basically handle all types of Customer Service operations.
(So he gave me a way longer and more thorough answer than this, but I took the worst notes)

M: What made you want to work here?
W: My love for comics. I’m a huge comic book fan.

Side Note: I’m making Will sound very bland but he was the absolute nicest and best guy to talk to so if you see him tell him “Marcela says hi,” and then chat with him cause he’s great

M: First comic book ever read or owned?
W: First comic book… I can’t remember the exact first but it had to be somewhere along the lines of X-Men for sure.

M: Favorite comic book series?
W: Oh Punisher, for sure.

M: Best time of the day to be here? You know, like the best environment?
W: Best time of the day? I mean, I guess in the afternoon, you can see how busy it is now and on weekends it gets super busy. Monday through Friday really, afternoons.

M: If you could change one thing about the store what would it be?
W: Nothing.

M: Have any celebrities come in?
W: Oh all the time! Yeah, they always come in you know and we greet them, help them out if they need or we let them be.
M: What celebrities have you seen?
W: Uh, Seth Green, you know from Robot Chicken, Mark Ruffalo, you know the Incredible Hulk, Finn Bálor from the WWE.
M: That’s so cool. So do you guys take photos with them?
W: Sometimes, yeah. We feel them out before we ask them for one. We don’t wanna be intrusive.

M: Most thought provoking comic that you’ve read?
W: Thought provoking… Saga, a sci-fi comic series that I’ve read. It’s really good if you wanna check it out.

I then thanked Will for his time and for answering all my questions. Once again, he was the nicest guy I could’ve asked to meet and interview. The store was busy and it kept getting busier as Noori and I left. The store has more than just books, there’s apparel, home decor, and more. The workers by the cash registers seemed to be having a laugh a lot, and the ones working the floor were friendly and patient with everyone. I heard people speaking all types of languages, showing the diversity within the customers, and the environment overall is always the best.

Forbidden Planet is my personal favorite comic book (and more) store, especially since they actually carry Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics yay! A girl needs her Joss Whedon fix.

About Me

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Hello all! My name is Marcela, I was born and raised in Queens, New York. I am fluent in both English and Spanish (and I’m currently learning Brazilian Portuguese). I’m majoring in Sport Management and hope to work for a team or arena one day. My favorite things to do include reading and writing, watching movies, listening to all types of music, hanging out with friends and family, and watching football (soccer). Some fun facts about me are that my favorite season is fall, I like the color yellow, I’m a dog person, my favorite movies include The Big Lebowski and Shaun of the Dead, my favorite book is God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite bands include the Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters, a couple of my personal heroes of mine include Pelé, Dave Grohl, and Tina Fey, and a quote I live by is “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” – Steve Martin. I decided to take this comics class to better my understanding of the comic books themselves, rather than just the movie universes which I love! My favorite superhero is Spider-Man since he’s literally a hometown hero and my favorite graphic novel that I’ve read so far is The Complete Persepolis. I hope to learn a lot more about this home of mine through a different viewpoint and I can’t wait to do so!