Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gerry Anderson, RIP

The Puppetmaster is dead; long live the puppetmaster.

More accurately, 83-year-old producer Gerry Anderson, who with his wife Sylvia was the power behind Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlett and the Mysterions, and other puppet series (not to mention the live-action Space: 1999 in the mid-1970s), passed away earlier today.

End scene.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Little Page Design Moment

Just something I created for my Facebook page in an attempt to play with page spreads from the three issues of my Galaxis science/science fiction digital magazine (available free at

Saturday, December 8, 2012

1,000 Points of Sight: Galaxis Number 3

The third edition of my free digital science & science fiction magazine, Galaxis, has reached its first milestone in record time. Not even a full month since it was published on, Galaxis #3 has racked up 1,000 views. That is, I believe, faster than the previous two issues or any of my digital magazines has reached that milestone.

My thanks to everyone who has looked at the issue, read it, shared it with their blog/Facebook/Twitter followers, sent me feedback, or showered me with offers of glory. Granted, none of the last has happened, but one can hope.

On to 2,000!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Timothy Garton Ash Reminds Us Who We Are

And what we are.

In the Nov. 22, 2012, issue of The New York Review of Books, Timothy Garton Ash tackles the challenge that he says Western states are failing: How to adapt to increasingly multicultural populations without giving up the liberal ideals on which modern states are founded.

(He's not referring to our American political breakdown of "liberal" and "conservative" when he writes that, but rather to the classic and enduring ideals of liberal Western societies. You know, the ideals that made these countries the richest and most free and powerful nations in the world's history.)

He spends a fair amount of time dealing with how countries are doing exactly the wrong thing in dealing with disparate groups in society. Instead of teaching and enforcing the important overarching ideals (education, tolerance, human dignity), they are selling out those virtues and instead embedding in society the most illiberal aspects of some of these groups (such as "honor" killings and the suppression of free speech). Ash turns that on its head, and in so doing, returns to eternal liberal values that should inform our efforts to incorporate polycultural societies.

Read the article while it's still in front of the NYBooks paywall. Maybe you'll see why Timothy Garton Ash is one of my favorite writers and why The New York Review of Books is one of my favorite publications.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bay Area a Hotbed for Social Entrepreneurs

Also in the latest issue of the Marina Times, I speak with Ruth Shapiro, editor of the new book The Real Problem Solvers: Social Entrepreneurs in America.
Ruth Shapiro. Photo by Sonya Abrams
Bay Area a Hotbed for Social EntrepreneursBy John Zipperer
December 2012 
In 2012, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama visited Silicon Valley looking not for votes – everyone knows this is the bluest of blue areas – but for money. If they had spent more time on the ground here, in addition to cash they might have picked up some ideas for solving the country’s problems. The Bay Area excels at producing ideas and cash.  
A growing number of people looking to improve the world in various ways are incorporating wisdom and resources from businesses. It’s a rapidly maturing field, and Ruth Shapiro is doing everything she can to ...

The Golden Ticket

My latest opinion piece in the Marina Times, in which I probably anger some well-paid people and their enablers.

At least the original Robin Hood was
into forcible trickle-down economics. Photo: andscene
The Golden Ticket
City's reverse Robin Hood spending

By John Zipperer
December 2012
For years, there has been a movement to convince cable television providers to charge for their channels on an a la carte basis. You can select each of the channels you want and pay for only those.  
If we took that same approach to public budgets, what do you think would be the result? It’s not an entirely serious question; there are certain things that people don’t like but that need to be paid for

A Sky Full of Earths

From the current issue of the Marina Times, my Science article:
An artist’s conception of Kepler-22b, a planet in the
habitable zone of its star. It is the first planet that NASA’s
Kepler mission has confirmed to orbit in a star’s
 habitable zone, but scientists are now finding potentially
 habitable planets by the dozens. photo: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech
A Sky Full of Earths
By John Zipperer
December 2012
Stroll along Crissy Field at night and look up into the sky, and you will see lots of stars. But because of the interference of other lights in the metro area, you won’t see nearly as many stars as someone in the countryside would see.  
For scientists who have been studying stars for years – even decades – the analogous situation for finding planets around those stars is more dire. For millennia, there was widespread doubt ...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blood and Chrome Parts 5 and 6

The latest two parts of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.

This series (well, the latest installment of the pilot film, to be more accurate) is very well done; exciting, dark, and quite well-made. The main drawback continues to be the BSG team's love of that damn shaking camera technique, which is either affectation run amok or a stylistic attempt to cover up computer effects they don't want us to look at too closely.

Other than that, great stuff.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sci-Fi TV Arises: The Starlog Project, Starlog #201, April 1994

Starlog called this a special "Robots Issue," but it's really a special TV issue, and a good reminder from a point in history when SF TV was really establishing itself in a very big way. In early 1994, science fiction series are beginning to flourish on the small screen, especially in the syndicated market but also in the network world, where Chris Carter's The X-Files is starting its groundbreaking run.

A few months before The X-Files premiered, I was able to see the first episode thanks to a friend of mine who worked at a large advertising agency. She got a preview cassette of a different new TV show, which was what we really wanted to see; The X-Files was also included as an afterthought. I don't even remember what the other show was or if it lasted long before cancellation. But after we watched The X-Files premiere episode, we both looked at each other with surprise and said, "That was really good." And we were correct. It was.

We should note that on the upper left-hand corner of the cover, right above the "SPECIAL ROBOTS ISSUE" headline, is a photo of Star Wars' C3PO, who isn't featured in the issue. Oopski.

Starlog #201
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

The last two pages of this issue reprise a humorous if odd thing from issue #191: Fake trading cards of Starlog correspondents. This issue features Tom Weaver, Ian Spelling, George Kochell, Lynne Stephens, and Michael Wolff, who, when asked about "what he wants to be when he grows up," replies, "The dim face spotted at the end of a dream. Why? Because the shadows are blessed and there's treasure in a secret." Okay.

The rundown: Richard Eden, the newest actor to be RoboCop, graces the cover, while the contents page features Robert Llewelyn as Red Dwarf's Kryten. David McDonnell's Medialog rounds up the news bits, including the tidbit that RoboCop's Paul Verhoeven "may end up directing Starship Troopers," which of course happens and results in a film that in my humble opinion is far better than RoboCop. In his Gamelog column, Michael McAvennie reviews Absolute Entertainment's Star Trek: The Next Generation and others, including GURPS War Against the Chtorr, based on author (and former Starlog columnist) David Gerrold's well-received series of novels. And the Communications section ranges from a letter that almost single-handedly previews the entire SF TV landscape, to a complaint about the Sci-Fi Channel's hacking-up of genre series, as well as the final installment of cartoonist Mike Fisher's Creature Profile, this one featuring Dr. Cyclops. (In his end-of-the-book editorial column, editor McDonnell reveals that genre expert Tom Weaver provided some assistance during the 40-issue run of this comic feature.)

CBS/Fox Video unleashes some more Doctor Who episodes, according to David Hutchison's Videolog. A brand new column debuts from an old Starlog hand: former editorial staffer David Hirsch returns to the fold with Audiolog, reporting on records and CDs from SF media. Among Hirsch's many accomplishments during his years at the magazine was editing the Space Report column, which was written by producer Gerry Anderson (Space: 1999, Thunderbirds), so it's either very fitting or a case of astonishing coincidence that right next to Hirsch's inaugural column is an ad for a science fiction convention featuring Gerry Anderson. The Booklog department includes reviews of The Voyage, The Positronic Man, Under the Eye of God, The Fabulist, Nevernever, The Stalk, Brother to Shadows, Orion and the Conqueror, The Disinherited, The Woods Out Back, Firedance, The Broken God, The Outcast, Martin the Warrior, The Armageddon Inheritance, Eternal Light, The Legend of Nightfall, and Nimbus. The Fan Network pages include Marc Bernardin's listing of fan organizations, some comics, and the usual convention calendar. And former publisher Kerry O'Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to talk about NASA's attempts to regain its lost luster by creating a space station.

In another of his speculative genre overview articles (that's a category, right?), Michael Wolff sticks to the "Robots Issue" theme by looking at robotic characters in SF film and TV; illustrations are by George Kochell. One of the most famous television robots, the aptly named Robot from Lost in Space, was brought to life by actor Bob May, who tells interviewer Tom Weaver, "There was one requirement I had to meet in order to play the Robot: The outfit was almost completely built, so therefore I had to fit into it—there was no way around that!" And one of the most famous cyborgs (well, they're part robot) from television was the young Borg Hugh from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Pat Jankiewicz chats with Jonathan Del Arco, the actor who brought Hugh to life on the show as a guest star, having been unsuccessful in his screen test to portray Wesley Crusher.

Cover boy Richard Eden tells Peter Bloch-Hansen about his new gig bringing RoboCop to TV life every week. The British TV series Red Dwarf is updated in a report by Joe Nazzaro. Ian Spelling does the same for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine by talking with Siddig El Fadil. The magazine goes further back in time with a profile by Joe Nazzaro of Colin Baker, one of the 3 million British actors who portrayed Doctor Who. Tom Weaver's second article this issue is a Q&A with Kathleen Crowley, who starred in Target Earth, Curse of the Undead, Flame Barrier, and other films. Kyle Counts checks in with producer Chris Carter, who unveils his new Fox TV series The X-Files. And in his Liner Notes column, editor David McDonnell says goodbye to exiting managing editor Maureen McTigue, who's heading over to DC Comics and who was featured in the previous set of Starlog contributor trading cards. Circle of life.
"I have not read a tremendous amount of science fiction. … I wouldn't call myself a science fiction fan; when I go to the library, I don't gravitate toward the SF section. I was never a huge Star Trek fan. But I'm interested in certain types of science fiction, what people oftentimes call science fact. I prefer books that don't talk about a world in the future but rather that take human situations and play with them in a fictionalized, scientific way."
–Chris Carter, X-Files producer, interviewed by Kyle Counts, "Scientific American" 
For more, click on Starlog Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Print-on-Demand Edition of Galaxis 3 Now Available

Galaxis December 2012
84 pages, published 11/18/2012
A magazine of science fiction and science. Featuring Star Wars' mythic background, original Galactica episode guide, SF authors Charles Yu and Lev Grossman, a pictorial visit to CERN and the Large Hadron Collider, short fiction, events, reviews (including our extended Prometheus review), puzzles, and much more.

One week after the free digital version of my latest Galaxis issue came out, the print-on-demand edition is now available. Produced by HP's excellent MagCloud service, the print-on-demand edition is printed when you order it and mailed to you.

It's a tad pricey (welcome to print-on-demand and the post-newsstand world), but if, like me, you enjoy paper and digital magazines, it is a great option. Please note that the price for this print-on-demand edition is purely for the printing and mailing; I receive not a penny from the paper edition.

If you just want the free digital edition (which you can even download to your computer – desktop, smartphone, tablet, whatever), you might want to try my other digital publishing partner, issuu.

And many thanks to the folks who have already given me feedback on this issue. I'm blushing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Preview Video of Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Reportedly the new Syfy webseries Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome will premiere online this Friday. Here, whet your appetite with this preview.

And keep your eyes out for the third issue of my digital magazine devoted to science fiction and science, Galaxis, which includes a report on Blood & Chrome. It should be available in a week or so.

Friday, October 26, 2012

And They Wonder Why Voters Are Confused

Well, some voters are simply confused in all aspects of their life. But look at the headlines above from today's front page of the Huffington Post, and you'll see why even voters who pay attention to the news and think about it can still be confused.

On the left, "National Tracking Polls Show Romney Uptick," while on the right, "Romney Still Surging? Polls Say No."

So he's no longer surging, but his polls are on the upswing. Clear as mud? Welcome to Internet news. The Land that Editors Forgot.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Newsweek Print, RIP

The least earth-shaking news story of the month: Newsweek will stop printing its magazine at the end of 2012 and go to an all-digital strategy.

It might wish it didn't print this issue:

Cue the wags saying "I thought Newsweek stopped publishing a long time ago ..."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vote, Votes, Voting, and Voters

Early voting for the 2012 general election has already started, and I intend to partake as soon as I receive my voting packet in the mail. I'm a big believer in voting, and I'm also a believer in discounting complaints from nonvoters who complain about politics.

Below (you can click on the image to enlarge, or view it on page four of the digital version of the entire magazine) is my editorial from the October/November 2012 issue of The Commonwealth, the members' magazine of The Commonwealth Club of California.

Naturally, one would guess that I'd prefer to have people vote only if they agreed with me on candidates and issues. But in reality, I want every eligible person to vote. Those who vote for different candidates might be making the wrong decision, but at least I'll give them credit for voting their consciences and not just being post-election whiners.


(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Turn that Frown Town Upside Down!

From the genius and warped minds of Steven Foundling and Andy Warner, this is part one of what I hope will be a many-parted life for Frown Town.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Defending Tina Brown's Newsweek Rage

If you follow the magazine industry like I do, then you're reading a lot about how people are freaking out about Newsweek's allegedly incendiary cover this week, which features a crowd of Middle East Muslims and the cover line "Muslim Rage." (See here for just one example.)

The commentary on the cover is incendiary, and ridiculous. Some of the criticism is of the cover, and other criticism is over the cover story author, a former Muslim turned harsh critic of Islam (especially in its more conservative and radical forms) named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Frankly, it's a good cover. Not awesome, but a good cover. For that matter, the 2008 New Yorker cover that sent the Obamaites into hysterics (it showed the Obamas dressed as radicals) was also a good cover. I am not sure what standards people are bringing to the conversation when they write (as they have) that the Newsweek cover is beyond the pale, unacceptable, and evidence of incompetence.

No, the evidence of Tina Brown's Newsweek incompetence was her absolutely reprehensible defense and promotion of a recent Newsweek cover story by Niall Ferguson, a story that has been ripped to shreds over its blatant (and easily disproved) lies.

Newsweek is not what it used to be. It is a Tina Brown vehicle, with all the good and bad that implies. But not everything she does that is provocative and controversial is bad. One of the silliest complaints I've read lately is that Brown's covers and other efforts are designed to get people talking about the magazine. Well, duh; that is what covers are supposed to do. Get people to talk about the magazine, get people to therefore read the magazine, sell more copies, feed more people to advertisers. You might not like that business model, but Brown didn't invent it.

There is some political ideology at work here. Leftwing critics have no problem making sweeping statements about the Muslim world when it supports their viewpoints; see any number of "Why they hate us" arguments against American policy in the Middle East or other justifications for anti-U.S. or anti-Israeli actions among radicals in the Middle East. But Ali brings up very disturbing claims that the Islamist fringe isn't as small as liberals like to think it is, and if you think about how the body of non-radical American Christian conservatives occasionally helps or is silent about the violence and hate-mongering of the Christian nationalist fringe in this country, then her argument at least deserves a hearing. Newsweek provided it; snarkers attacked it.

As someone who has produced magazines with cover images or content that sparked unjustified criticism and insult to me and my staff, all I can say is that critics should focus their criticism on what Newsweek is really doing wrong, not on imagined outrages. They will still be plenty busy, I assure you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Everywhere Signs

If you can't read the yellow sign on the propped-open door, don't feel bad; perhaps the store employees couldn't read it, either.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jonah Lehrer Reminds Us of Something Important

Wired magazine announces that it, too, is ending its relationship with science writer Jonah Lehrer, who has been undergoing a public humiliation as his New Yorker and other writing gigs have been found to be rife with re-used or even made-up information.

The final paragraph of Huffington Post's article is significant, because it points out the importance of the often-underappreciated work of editing and review. It quotes a media scholar:
Lehrer's transgressions are inexcusable—but I can't help but think that the industry he (and I) work for share some of the blame for his failure. I'm 10 years older than Lehrer, and unlike him, my contemporaries and I had all of our work scrutinized by layers upon layers of editors, top editors, copy editors, fact checkers and even (heaven help us!) subeditors before a single word got published
It's worth noting that Newsweek magazine was publicly shamed when its recent cover story on the election was found to be rife with errors and it admitted that it does not fact check its articles. The magazine even offered the lame excuse that the writer, conservative Niall Ferguson, was writing opinion, as if that means they're not responsible for determining if the charges – presented as fact – in his opinion piece are truth, errors, or lies.

Editing still matters. Editorial review, research, argument, and contemplation still matter. Speed and opinion should not be the highest goals for media.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Christian Science Monitor Needs Letters

What's missing?

My Visit from President Obama

I was surprised, not to mention delighted, when President Barack Obama appeared in my office this morning. (Gee, after actor/director Clint Eastwood's speech last night, I'm seeing the president everywhere, it seems.)

While I sat in my office speaking with the president, I asked if I could take a photo. He was kind enough to allow it, so the photographic proof is above.

I was nervous – this was the first sitting president I've actually met – so the photo isn't that great; Mrs. InvisibleObama got accidentally cropped on the right side.

Barack to Clint: Right Back Atcha

We've all known Clint Eastwood is a Republican. He's been a public (and at one point publicly elected) GOP person for decades. And he's earned respect even from his political opposites because of his integrity and independence. I'll say I agree with him on a lot of things; disagree with him on a few important things, so we'll each be voting for different candidates this November. Fair enough.

But, oh dear, did he not do himself or his legacy any good last night with his speech to the Republican National Convention. Worse for him, he didn't do his preferred candidate any good.

The Democrats are having a field day. (I liked the simple "Wow" of one deputy Obama campaign manager in response to the speech, or the campaign's statement that they would refer questions about Eastwood's speech to surrealist Salvador Dali.) And here's President Obama's response to Clint Eastwood's empty-chair ramble:
Courtesy Towleroad.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Edit Discover

So, I still think it was a good idea to bring the editorial staff of Discover magazine to suburban Milwaukee from New York, as owner Kalmbach Publishing has done.

But everyone doesn't appear to think so; I just received an electronic job alert: Discover magazine is searching for a new editor-in-chief. Hmmm....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Galaxis Hits 5,000

The second issue of Galaxis magazine, my digital science fiction/science magazine, has reached 5,000 readers.

I'm still hip-deep in putting together the third issue; I clearly have missed the ship date for Galaxis three (or Galaxis drei, as I refer to it internally, keeping with the German name). But this third issue will be the biggest yet, and it will include an analysis of Star Wars' mythic roots, a complete episode guide to the original Battlestar Galactica (as a complement to my guide to the new Galactica in Galaxis two – or Galaxis zwei, if you're still with me), an update on Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, checking in with rising young science fiction author Charles Yu, a look inside the Hadron collider at CERN, presidential SF preferences, my review/analysis of Prometheus, the search for Earth-like planets, and a ton more. Look for it in the next couple months.

In the meantime, click on the image above to see/read/print/download the second issue of Galaxis, featuring the SyFy Galactica episode guide, a trip to Saturn, the world's first science fiction story, Lyle Lahey's Bunky comic, building the first real starship, German science fiction history, and – again – a ton more.

Keep reading!

Friday, August 17, 2012

News Quiz: Romney, Ecuador, & More

What did the UK threaten to do to Ecuador? Whom did Jerry Brown quote? How did Mitt Romney describe President Obama's campaign?

Find out how much you know about the week's news in my latest Week to Week news quiz at Huffington Post San Francisco.

All that – plus Helen Gurley Brown!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kalmbach Lets Employees Discover Wisconsin

Kalmbach, the suburban Milwaukee-based publisher that purchased science magazine Discover two years ago, is reportedly closing Discover's New York office and shifting the editorial staff to its Midwest base, according to Folio:.

Just wanted to say, I told you so. Kalmbach was a good company to buy Discover, and now it's making a good decision regarding location. The only points-off moment was when the company's president used the word "synergy" to explain the move.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bad Ads, Part I

The ad box to the left of this text is from a Washington Post news article page. It's one of those omnibus ads you see syndicated across many websites, containing a number of different ads made to look vaguely like intriguing news-trendy stories.

Now, read the ads. Do they sound like reputable companies to you? It's fully possible that they are; but if so, then they should fire their ad copy writers and promotional team. These read like fly-by-night scams that try to trick you into clicking through to bad websites.

I know, I know; there's a sucker born every minute.

But here's a better slogan to keep in mind: caveat emptor.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

DC3's Newest Copilot

Also in this issue of the Marina Times, I spoke with rising local politician Kat Anderson.
Kat Anderson’s task for DC3: Unity  
by John Zipperer 
With the election of Marina resident Kat Ander-son to San Francisco’s Democratic County Central Committee (DC3), the City’s Democrats have put one more piece in place for ending what has been at times a destructive intraparty contest. 
Anderson, who was sworn into office July 25 for a two-year term, said it is time the City’s left-wing and moderate sides of the Democratic Party stop fighting ...

Interview with Author Cara Black

Cara Black; photo by Steven Fromtling
Cara Black, author of the Aimée Léduc series of mystery novels from Soho Crime, is profiled by yours truly in the current edition of the Marina Times:
Cara Black: International woman of mystery novels  
by John Zipperer 
If you walk down Market Street with mystery novelist Cara Black, what else do you talk about but murder? As she chatted about the chilly late July weather, she occasionally flipped her hair away from her eyes, only to have the wind blow it back. But at the mention of a real unsolved murder case here in San Francisco, Black’s eyes widened and she asked for details. She then shared a true story about another unsolved murder here, a locked-room killing in her own neighborhood involving a victim from France.  
France and death are not far from the surface when Black talked with the Marina Times about ...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Final Cut King's Post-It Mario

It does get hard to write your password on the damn little things when they move around like that, but still useful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Coming Soon in Marina Times: Cara Black, Mystery Writer

Murder, she wrote!

Ah, sorry, that's probably way overused. Nonetheless, this past Friday was even more pleasant than a normal Friday, because I had the pleasure of interviewing San Francisco-based mystery novelist Cara Black. She is the author of about a dozen popular novels set in Paris and starring private investigator Aimée Leduc.

We talked about her relatively easy entry into the world of publishing, murders real and fictional, and the city she loves so much, Paris.

She was at The Commonwealth Club of California to take part in a Bastille Day celebration (one day early), and I interviewed her before that program. The interview will appear in an upcoming issue of The Marina Times.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kemal Kayankaya: A summer Frankfurter everyone can enjoy

My review of the mystery novels of Jakob Arjouni, from the July 2012 issue of the Marina Times:

Kemal Kayankaya: A summer Frankfurter everyone can enjoy
By John Zipperer

Mystery novels about Germany that show up on our shores tend to be either reprints of World War II-era books or new novels set in that time. It’s an interesting milieu, but it’s unimaginative. Jakob Arjouni escaped those confines by writing mysteries set in modern-day Germany, dealing with very modern problems and featuring a refreshingly different kind of protagonist.

Kemal Kayankaya is a German private eye, mostly working the underside of Frankfurt. He can be found dealing with the prostitutes, local mobsters, two-bit thugs, and other lowlifes among whom Kayankaya generally finds his life, his customers and his friends.

Go the @&*# to sleep, Charlie

Another article of mine from the new issue of the Marina Times:

At last, Charlie fell the heck to sleep.
Photo by John Zipperer
AT HOME | Living with pets
Go the @&*# to sleep, Charlie
Moving can be a traumatic time for animals
By John Zipperer

Tired parents across the country have read or heard about Adam Mansbach’s indelicately titled Go the F*ck to Sleep, a storybook for parents at their most stressful time: children’s bedtime. My household includes no children, but it does include two cats, neither of whom generally finds it difficult to get to sleep.

Then we moved, and one of our cats was so unnerved by the change that it seemed as if he would never go to sleep.

Life of Crime

My latest Zippy column from the Marina Times:

Life of Crime
by John Zipperer

Among the many pleasures of living in a big city, one of them is definitely not coming home and having police cars parked in your driveway, crime scene tape lining the street, and medical examiner vehicles parked nearby.

A suspicious death in a nearby home had brought out San Francisco’s finest, and we’ve gotten to know them a bit better in the ensuing week as they collected evidence, handed out flyers,

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Horror Film Mag in 3-d

I've written here in the past about the importance of magazines — especially higher-priced niche magazines — including specials in their issues to give people a reason to buy print editions rather than digital editions (though I'm not against digital magazines; I produce some myself).

So a tip of the hat to the folks at horror film magazine Fangoria, whose next issue will feature three-dimensional content, including a poster; 3-d glasses are included in the magazine. And a bigger tip of the hat (or a tip of a bigger hat) to whatever cheeky marketing mind put "Presented in FangoVision 3D" atop the cover.

Fangoria has been very worth reading this past year or so for horror film buffs. The best reason for that is not the posters or 3-d gimmicks, but the refreshing and quirky and surprising editorial coverage inside — the best reason to pick up a magazine. But the gimmicks are fun and in the spirit of the publication and the genre, so it's a well-done job all around.

If that's not enough for you, then note that they're also taking 3-d off the printed page to their website, where they will be streaming a 3-d version of Horrors of Spider Island soon.

Keep surprising the readers, and they'll keep coming back.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Free Audio: Politics, Climate, Supreme Court, and More

Here's a link to the free audio for my Week to Week program from Friday, June 29, 2012.

The panel (shown in the rather poorly lit photo above; my apologies) were (left to right) John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle; Dr. Larry Gerston, San Jose State University professor, political analyst for NBC 11, and author of Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California; and Greg Dalton, founder and host of Climate One.

Naturally, we spent a lot of time on the Supreme Court's health-care ruling, so much so that we never got to the really important stuff, such as Tom and Katie's divorce.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus Has Landed

After seeing Ridley Scott's film Prometheus this weekend, I'm looking at that large hill behind our house in a whole new way.

Ever since we terraformed this part of the planet, people have been curious about what's inside that mound and whether it poses any danger to us.

Scanners show that it is hollow ...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Simple Ways to Decrease Your Online Vulnerability

Here's a primer for basic common sense online security baselines. From the latest issue of the Marina Times:
Don’t Let Virus Season Get You Down By John Zipperer 
As this issue of Marina Times goes to press, the Middle East is reporting a widespread and sophisticated computer infiltration that has been covertly copying and relaying information from computers in that region and sending the data who-knows-where. It is just the latest reminder of the vulnerability of even heavily protected government and industry computers; in such a world, what chance do you have with your personal hardware and software?

The News, Short and Sweet

I wrote a lot for the current edition of the Marina Times. Here's a media column:
The News, Short and Sweet: One in depth, one in brief
By John Zipperer
Opinion articles about the media are often critical, pointing out everything that is wrong with all or certain media outlets. Here is a corrective. 
There are countless professional news and information outlets available via the Internet. Some are good, a few are great, and many are bad or incompetent. Here are two very different websites that take divergent approaches, and each succeeds in increasing the reach of news and ideas. Newser is arguably the best place to ...

All in the Family

My latest politics article from the Marina Times:
Ross Mirkarimi from happier times
in 2008 (Photo: Brian Kusler)
All in the Family: There Are no Winners in This Fight 
By John Zipperer 
Say the name Ross Mirkarimi, and you are almost guaranteed to get strong and even visceral opinions from just about anyone in San Francisco. Through a combination of his own actions and obstinacy, as well as some heavily socially engineered legislation over the years, San Francisco Sheriff Mirkarimi will continue to be a lightning rod for a long time. In short, he won’t let the story die.

Doyle's Legacy Goes Farther than His Drive

View of Doyle Drive during the April 28
demolition (Photo Courtesy of CalTrans)
My latest article in the Marina Times:
Doyle's Legacy Goes Farther than His Drive 
By John Zipperer 
More than 90,000 people have driven over Doyle Drive daily, yet few are likely to know why the elevated roadway carried that name. There are a number of things in the Bay Area named after Frank Pierce Doyle, but the now-demolished roadway leading to the Golden Gate Bridge was arguably the most apt. Frank Doyle, who passed away on Aug. 5, 1948, was a significant Bay Area figure in the early 20th century, involved in everything from banking to the recovery from the 1906 earthquake. As president of the Exchange Bank,...

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

Just this morning on the subway ride to work, I was reading an interview in Filmfax magazine with writer/editor Dr. Samuel J. Sackett. Decades ago, he had sent his first story to author Ray Bradbury to get his opinion on it. Bradbury "rewrote the first two pages into one page to condense it and, of course, it was all in his style which was not my style, so I had to rewrite that page as I would have written it," Sackett told the magazine. "But there was one sentence I simply couldn't rewrite because I couldn't think of another way to put it, so there's one sentence by Bradbury in that story. But I don't remember which sentence."

Upon arriving at work, I learned that Ray Bradbury has passed away at the age of 91. As they say, the death of an old man is no tragedy – meaning, as I take it, it's neither a surprise nor too soon. But that doesn't mean it is not an occasion for sadness and happiness; to lose someone who crafted tales of great poetry is a loss and at the same time a reminder that this weird human species is capable of producing someone who can make a martian pulp story into poetry.

I believe Fahrenheit 451 was the first of his books that I read, probably back in junior high school. (I was just making reference to the wall-sized TV screens in a conversation with a friend last week.) Sometime later, I read his epic book The Martian Chronicles, a book that is inescapable as a lodestar for later writers tackling the topic of former civilizations on Mars, just as one can't write about robots without either referencing or being seen to avoid referencing Isaac Asimov's robotic laws.

Bradbury was an unusual genre writer in many ways. Unlike the hard-SF writers or the new wave SF writers, Bradbury's stories were a gentler, more humane sort. It says something good about the science fiction world that his stories were not only read but celebrated within it. I think they will be celebrated for many years to come, and their influence will be sustained, even if later generations "don't remember which sentence" of the continuing narrative about Mars came from Bradbury. He's woven himself too much into the stories.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another Century: The Starlog Project, Starlog 200, March 1994

Even though publishing 200 editions of a magazine is a huge achievement, it just doesn’t have the same celebratory sense of accomplishment as publishing the first 100. It’s not rational, really; magazine publishing has always been a risky business, so the longer you can keep going, the bigger the achievement.

Nonetheless, Starlog probably didn’t help itself with this special 100-page issue by basically repeating the formula of issue 100: The core of the magazine is made up of short profiles of the “200 most important people” in science fiction and fantasy. Not a bad idea, but after issue 100, not an original one, either. (It's a formula the magazine would repeat in issue #300.) The 200 referenced in that name actually refers to brief recaps of those first 100 people, then longer (though still short) profiles of VIPs 101-200.

Starlog #200
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $6.95

So what happened in the years since the company published Starlog 100? Quite a lot, really. The United States went from having basically three commercial broadcast networks plus public television and a smattering of cable to having four commercial networks plus public, lots of cable (including a science-fiction channel all to itself), burgeoning numbers of independent stations, and an expanding international market. All of that means there was greater demand for content, or, in the words of Hollywood money people, “product.” As a result, Starlog and other SF mags had a lot more genre programs (and movies) to write about.

Starlog itself had changed quite a bit over those 100 issues, though not as much as it had from issue 1 through 100. By March 1994, Starlog was still the core of a multi-title magazine publishing company, but many of those sister titles had changed. The page count of Starlog was higher, the cover price higher, the paper quality better, and many of the names on the masthead different – most significantly, arguably, was the departure from the company of co-founder Kerry O’Quinn, who had sold his share of the business and taken on a consultant's role.

The mid-1980s, when Starlog 100 was published, was a time when people weren’t sure where the economy was going. Things were still on an upswing from the brutal early 1980s recession, and that decade saw constant changes and uncertainty. But by the mid-1990s, when #200 was published, Starlog was in the middle of a solid decade of very low inflation (so no constant cover price increases every year or two) and apparently strong circulation and readership.

The rundown: The cover is a shiny standout that probably caught eyes on the newsstand, so in that sense, it might be a success. But as a well-designed cover, it just doesn’t make it; the Starlog logo is hard to see, the photos at the bottom of the cover aren’t the people listed right above the photos who are interviewed inside; and the background really serves no purpose other than to catch the eye – it’s not as if it’s a science-fictiony design. It’s just shiny. As for the contents page, it’s actually kind of cool: a large Frank Frazetta Barsoom painting sprawls over one full page and edges onto the next.

David McDonnell kicks off the celebratory section with an introduction to the 200 most etc., etc., etc. First we get the brief overviews of the first 100 folks; then begins the many, many pages devoted to the second 100 people, which fills up much of the remainder of the magazine, interspersed with a few normal articles (about which more in a moment).

There are some obvious choices on the 100 new additions to this list, of course, but the real pleasure of going through the profiles is finding people about whom you know nothing; never heard of them. For example, before you read the following name, August W. Derleth, had you ever heard of him? Before re-examining this issue, neither had I. But I was pleased to find that he came from my former home state of Wisconsin and was something of a pioneering editor, publisher, and writer. So I immediately began looking for his work and for information about him online. Philip Wylie, Arch Oboler, and John P. Fulton are other names on the list that might have sparked an interest among other readers. Taken together, this list can help enrich your appreciation of the history and breadth of science fiction and fantasy.

There can be an endless but sometimes fun game played with the list of the genre’s most important people. Who deserved to be on the list but was left off? I would add Starlog’s own former columnist David Gerrold, for one. Or you can go negative and ask who was on the list but shouldn’t be.

Such lists are inherently subjective, of course, but if they’re done well, they can burnish the publication’s authority. One of Starlog’s assets through much of its life was its assumed role as a standard-bearer of establishment SF; it helped define important topics, trends, and people. So, even with my basic skepticism about featuring a big list for a second time in Starlog’s every-100-issues tradition, the editors and writers have acquitted themselves well.

In other content this issue, Kerry O’Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to recount a speech he gave to a Mexican university, where he found a lot of Starlog readers. Stan Nicholls interviews longtime Starlog favorite Arthur C. Clarke, who discusses his latest novel, The Hammer of God, and some of his other works, including the Rama books. Bill Warren profiles filmmaker Joe Dante, who talks at length about the craze for remakes (and big-screen reinventions of old TV shows). And Kim Howard Johnson talks with director Terry Gilliam about films – live action and animated.

Marc Shapiro checks in with producer Gale Anne Hurd about Penal Colony, though she also discusses her work on Aliens and the Terminator series. James Mitchell contributes his first Starlog article, an interview with filmmaker Tim Burton; they discuss Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Cabin Boy, and his upcoming Ed Wood, among other projects. Stan Nicholls talks with writer/editor/science-evangelist Ben Bova. And another first-time contributor, J. Stephen Bolhafner, interviews author William Gibson, who talks all things cyberpunk (including his experiences with and about Billy Idol).
“[L]ife was almost wiped out on our planet many times in the past, most recently 65 million years ago, give or take a week. The current thinking is that a large meteor or comet hit the Earth, causing an ecological catastrophe–the dinosaurs and three-quarters of all other species on land, sea and air were destroyed. Now, there are lots of craters on Mars, including one so big it’s not called a crater, it’s the Plain of helos. It’s 1,000 kilometers across. If something that large hit Mars, it might very well have destroyed any life there by blowing away the atmosphere. Whatever it was sent out a shock wave so powerful that it liquified the rock as it went through. Imagine sitting down to tea when THAT happened!”
–Ben Bova, interviewed by Stan Nicholls: “The Promise of Space”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Join Lev Grossman and Me in Palo Alto June 18

If you have read Lev Grossman's The Magicians and its sequel, The Magician King, then there's a pretty good chance you will want to join us on Monday, June 18, at the Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto, California. Grossman will be appearing there at our Commonwealth Club program, which begins at 7 p.m. I'll be moderating the event, but I'll be just as interested as you are to hear him talk about these books and his other work.

Grossman is Time's book critic and author of – besides the best-selling Magician books – Codex and Warp.

Get details on the event, and reserve your tickets!

If you haven't read those two books but you enjoy fantasy and science fiction, then I suggest in the next few weeks you buy them and read 'em. The Magicians has been described as "Narnia for adults" and "Hogwarts with sex and drugs," both of which sound a bit more sensationalist than the reality. But they are a fresh take on the fantasy/magic genre, and they deserve to go on your bookshelf next to Potter and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

In the meantime, follow Grossman's blog. He is an open and entertaining writer, not afraid to be incredibly open and honest in his writings (such as his description of how he totally screwed up an interview with J.K. Rowling years ago).

Then come meet Grossman and say hello to me on June 18.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

All Is Lost

Well, this is a gobsmacker.

Wisconsin had the absolute worst job record of all 50 states for the past 12 months; but according to a poll of voters in that state, they're supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker because they think he's the better job creator. He's got a 7-point advantage over Democrat Tom Barrett (up from 6 points a few days ago).

Considering the $30 million in recall campaign funds Gov. Walker has pulled in (especially from well-heeled out-of-state friends), this makes me think as goes Wisconsin, so goes America.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Fake Magazines of Blade Runner

Over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal tracks down and displays some of the fake magazines used in Ridley Scott's great film Blade Runner. Worth a look.

Along that same line of thinking, has a look at some fake covers of real magazines that were used in non-science-fiction films through the years.

And if that amuses you, but you don't have InDesign and Photoshop on your computer, check out this Fake Magazine Cover Creator (they even have Future magazine, how sweet). Such as the bit of fun I had creating my own Fangoria cover (at right).

Fake is fun.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Shatner Revival: The Starlog Project, Starlog 199, February 1994

William Shatner never really went away, of course. Before Star Trek, he had a long and varied career that included Shakespeare and more; after Trek, he acted in other movies (Trek and non-) and even starred in another prime time television show in the 1980s called T.J. Hooker. But in the mid-1990s, Shatner came back in a way that established himself as an immortal, or at least someone who clearly was going to be around a long time.

When he launched his Tekwar books, they were always likely multimedia candidates, and this issue Starlog highlights the Greg Evigan-starring television movies (it had already been translated into comics). Before the Tek wave had gone, it would also spawn a short-lived TV series and a video game.

There are lots of actors and other creative folks who have late-career resurgences; their rediscovery by the general public generally lasts a cycle and then recedes. But Shatner’s is still going strong in 2012, having conquered TV, social media (he’s got more than 1.4 million followers on Google+), dot-com success (Priceline), and yet more books, TV series (winning two Emmys for his Denny Crane portrayal), and videos.

But, as I noted, Shatner never really left. Even during that time that I tend to think of as his wandering through the desert phase – the 1970s – he was busy with stage shows, films, animated television, game shows, and commercials. Yet for all of that, it is fair to consider his Tek success as the birth of Shatner as multimedia entrepreneur, a role that he continues to play with much success today.

Starlog #199
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

This month, Starlog publishes its official statement of ownership, management and circulation. The total paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 265,192 (a giant increase over the previous year's 164,886), including the number of paid subscriptions of 9,350 (little changed from 9,675 in the last year). Why did Starlog’s circulation take off like that? Part of it might have been a distribution strategy by the publisher; the total copies printed was a whopping 610,000 (more than twice what it was in previous years), which means there were way more than 330,000 returns unsold from the newsstand. As wasteful as that seems, it was possibly driven by the new newsstand competition Starlog was preparing to face from upstarts Cinescape, Sci Fi Universe, and Sci Fi Channel magazine (later renamed Sci Fi Entertainment), all of which would debut later in 1994. Control of the newsstands was something Starlog Group was experienced in.

Random classified ad under the “Miscellaneous” banner: “HOLLYWOOD WILL BE KILLING OFF STAR TREK – BUT! Hollywood has read our ‘strong support’ petition letter and – Hollywood says yes! This particular letter would definitely ‘force’ them to reconsider – if they are flooded with them! Please sign this letter and mail it back now! Or Star Trek is dead. To receive yours, enclose a S.A.S.E. within an envelope to …” It does make you think Starlog should have raised its classified ad pricing for each additional exclamation point used.

The rundown: This month, the magazine breaks with its usual photographic cover treatments and runs the illustrated image from the Shatner epic Tekwar; meanwhile Nana Visitor in Bajoran garb takes over the contents page. In his Medialog column, David McDonnell reports that “There will be another Star Trek TV spinoff, also following the adventures of a spaceship, one with a smaller crew complement than the Enterprise (and including a Vulcan, a Klingon, and possibly some Next Generation characters.” Which reminds me of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring Laserblast, in which Mike saves the SOL by taking on Captain Janeway’s persona (and clothing) and saying at one point, “I’m responsible for the lives of 148 crewmembers aboard this ship, 144 of which we never see.”

Michael McAvennie reviews MechWarrior, Traveller, Magic: The Gathering, and more in his Gamelog column. The Communications letters from readers include a super-long letter defending Star Trek: The Next Generation, among other letters, plus Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile featuring the Mummy. Books reviewed in Booklog include Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura, The Far Kingdoms, Majyk by Accident, Growing Up Weightless, Turning Point, The Longing Ring, The Callahan Touch, ViraVax, When True Night Falls, Harm’s Way, The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, Down Among the Dead Men, Out of Time, Crashcourse, Shroud of Shadow, The Cygnet and the Firebird, Catfantastic III (yes, a collection of short stories featuring “tales … of magical, mutant and mundane cats" – it’s what people did before LOL cats websites), Into the Green, and The Well-Favored Man: The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Nephew. In Videolog, David Hutchison reports the latest video releases, including Highlander, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and a Twilight Zone boxed set. And in Fan Network, there’s the usual listing of conventions and directory of Trek fan clubs and publications (including Star Fetch: The Fun Fan Magazine, published in my home state of Wisconsin).

Ian Spelling, Starlog’s go-to guy for Star Trek reporting, interviews Nana Visitor, one of the stars of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her role of a Bajoran officer aboard the space station was originally going to go to Michelle Forbes, who portrayed Ensign Ro on Next Generation, but Forbes reportedly wanted a movie career rather than being tied to a series. So Visitor stepped in. Craig W. Chrissinger talks with Ashley McConnell, a novelizer of Quantum Leap stories. She gives some interesting insight into the how-tos of writing licensed novels, such as negotiating her contract almost by accident, or how much freedom the writer has to write the stories (a lot, in her case). And Bill Warren profiles actor John D’Aquino, who portrays Lt. Ben Krieg on seaQuest DSV. (My favorite pullquote from the issue is in the D’Aquino article: “I was such a boring kid that I would memorize TV Guide.”)

Veteran film scorer John Barry tells writer Tom Soter about his work on James Bond films, The Black Hole, Howard the Duck, and more. Soter writes:
[Barry] remembers 1986’s Howard the Duck with a shudder and a chuckle. “I had just finished Out of Africa with the same company, which wound up a hugely successful movie; it won all the Academy Awards. I got this mad phone call [from the film company, Universal Pictures] and they said, ‘It’s George Lucas’ movie,’ and I thought, ‘Well, a cartoon death wizard, a ridiculous thing, it just might be fantastic.’ So I said, ‘OK,’” Barry scored sequences without seeing the special FX, recalling that “I went blindly, with confidence, and I thought that [Lucas] was going to be taking care of all that. That never worked out. I still don’t know what happened. It was such an unbelievable disaster. And I never met George Lucas.” 
Peter Bloch-Hansen previews the TekWar telefilm. John Vester interviews the seemingly tireless Star Wars novelist Kevin J. Anderson. Joe Nazzaro takes a look at Sylvester McCoy, who recalls his work as Doctor Who. Pat Jankiewicz continues Starlog’s eternal quest to interview every person ever involved with the Trek franchise, this time talking to actor Jan Shutan, who guest starred as Scotty’s girlfriend in “The Lights of Zetar.” Tom Weaver profiles Billy Benedict, co-star of the Adventures of Captain Marvel serials in 1941. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn highlights Mario, a friend who explains his inspirations for pursuing a film career. Mark Phillips interviews Robert Hamner, who discusses his writing credits in Star Trek (original), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and others. And in his Liner Notes, editor David McDonnell lays down the law about what Starlog’s staff can and can not do for you (hint: Don’t send them your fiction stories and don’t ask them to forward a letter to your favorite actor).
“I think, for sure, all the women who came before us made a difference in how our roles were destined. I’ve been in relaionships where you’ve tried to get a man to marry you, but he’s resisting the relationship. You figure he is just not the marrying kind and you leave him. Two months later, you find out he got married to the next woman he met. That seems to be a common pattern. He needed to be comfortable with [marriage], so he could finally do it in a fresh environment. I think, maybe, in a sense, that’s what happened with Star Trek. Marina [Sirtis] and all the other women had an effect on what Terry [Farrell] and I get to do on Deep Space Nine. And I’m very grateful to them.”
–Nana Visitor, actor, interviewed by Ian Spelling, “Major Player” 
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Drunk Yoda

Drunk Yoda says: "I'm not as drunk as you think I am."

I expect an internet meme out of this, folks ...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Shrinking

A couple years ago, I complained on this blog about periodicals that published miniature versions of their magazines even while they continued to publish the normal-sized versions of their magazines. It seems to be a thing that fashion magazines are doing, for no reason I can figure out.

And yet, here I am today, to show off the new miniature version of my print-on-demand digital magazine Galaxis. A little background: I use, an online digital publications platform. On Issuu, people can publish, distribute, and read digital magazines, all displayed wonderfully in high-quality formats that even replicate the visual appeal of a physical magazine. At the same time, I use MagCloud, an online print-on-demand digital publications platform created by HP, to distribute my magazines to anyone who might wish to purchase a hard copy. Print and digital: friends, not enemies.

But upon logging into my Issuu account recently, I noticed a new option, one only available for me to use on my own publications: I could order a print-on-demand hard copy. Among the options were to have the publication perfect-bound (with a square, glued spine instead of staples), color or converted to grayscale black-and-white, and even to shrink the publication and print it in a smaller format. I chose the latter, with color covers but converting the full-color interior of the second issue of Galaxis to black-and-white.

The mini-Galaxis arrived a few weeks later, sent from Europe, where Issuu is based. (See photo above.) It looks fantastic. It is still a ridiculous extravagance to have a mini version of a full-sized magazine, but since my digital magazines are largely a self-indulgent extravagance anyway, I'm pleased to have it.

I continue to believe that these digital platforms are great steps along the way to reinventing and saving magazines (in both printed hard copy form and digital form), but for now, the per-page cost is simply too high for someone to launch a commercial magazine through the print-on-demand options. And launching a commercially successful magazine (in print and digital) is my goal. MagCloud charges about 20 cents per page, which adds  up pretty quickly to eye-popping prices; Issuu's print-on-demand service is even more expensive.

I still think that the long-term resolution will involve greatly evolved print-at-home capabilities, but for most people, that would be science fiction. Hence, I love it.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Facebook and Orly Taitz and Chicago? Take the W2W News Quiz

Take my Week to Week news quiz over at Huffington Post San Francisco to see how much you know about the big events in the news.

This was a week in which Iran announced a social media strategy, of a sort; an entire political movement admitted defeat; boxers fought outside the ring and demonstrated why we don't ask them about anything other than boxing; and Chicago-style politics erupted in its usual sharp-elbowed, humorously nutty way.

Find out how much you know about things, and see if you can improve upon your score from last week.

Take the quiz

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We're No. 2

According to the IMF and the CIA, in 2011 the GDP of the European Union was about $17.5 trillion and the GDP of the United States was about $15.1 trillion.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Digital Nomad

Anastasia Ashman Writer, Producer, Author
(Tales of the Expat Harem), Co-Creator of
Global Niche (photo: Steven Fromtling)
Website gremlins prevented me from posting this link to a profile I wrote in the April 2012 edition of Marina Times. It's a look at Anastasia Ashman, an old friend and former colleague from my Internet World magazine days. She has turned her interests into a successful "global niche" of creative souls:
Digital Nomad
Anastasia Ashman merges social media and global citizenship
By John Zipperer 
Some people lose themselves in the world. Anastasia Ashman turned herself into a tour guide to help people find themselves. A Berkeley native, Ashman’s life has taken her around the world, from the development hell of Hollywood to the ruling circles of Malaysia to the ancient streets of Istanbul. Now she’s back in the Bay Area, recently taken up residence with her husband in Russian Hill, and she’s able to say, “We didn’t come here knowing that much about what’s going on in San Francisco. We came here with the intention of finding out and treating it like a foreign country.”  
Foreign country? To a woman who grew up across the Bay?  
It’s a disconnect between location and identity that is intentional on her part ...