Tuesday, December 3, 2013


The world is becoming one big melting pot. As everything, meaning "everything" dealing with our polictical ideas, religion ideas, the different ways of farming to running a press in the world, is coming together, from large groups to one, and to the positive ideas to the negative ideas. This is globalization. As we are becoming more of the future of modern techniques and of the new improved faster way, technology is becoming of the simple things we do. This is making the rate of globalization much faster from these improved ways. A major invention of technology is from the first invention of the airplane. For now we can travel the fastest way and meeting other people in the world sharing and learning each others techniques and ways of their culture, speeding up the process of globalization. Another major technology was the invention of the telephone. For now we can have cellphones, computers with internet which this allows people to interact live with each other learning from each other from around the world. The internet is such a variety of open things to learn from the news, videos, it replaces the encyclopedia, phone book, or any other book needed. You are now able to access so much by using the internet. As technology keeps improving, globalization is still working. As the years pass the world will come together pouring their ideas into one pot for us to live from.


I love the internet and how fast it is to look for anything you need. People are constantly on their phones searching for answers as what time is a movie or where is a address to go to. It's amazing how it keeps improving. But the best way to learn from another's culture is to travel to them. You actually live, learn and witness the way they do everything in life. I remember going to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation and how much I changed myself during my week there. I was speaking more Spanish from listening to them, I was enjoying their foods learning how to eat it. Even their Wal-Mart sold their food different with open baskets of bread and the seafood laying on ice to help yourself to what you needed to buy. I was getting more involved in their culture even by wearing a few different clothing pieces to fit in like them. I enjoyed their way of having fun and seemed like a fiesta everyday with dancing, eating and drinking. One thing I was not comfortable with the party atmosphere is the amount of drinking, especially tequila. They kept wanting to give me shots or some form of it in a drink, which I was not even of age when we traveled there, but they thought I was a "big boy".


You don't have to travel far to learn things either. Just by traveling from the North to the South can be a culture shock. Traveling lets a person take these parts of their culture with you back to your own. Then the person has taken these ideologies and taught their culture, making things new and improved, which contributes to globalization.


Besides globalization, there is glocalization which is bringing in a global idea and then changing it to meet the local cultural standards. It is cultures bringing ideas and practices into a culture that is not their own. Just like Chinese restaurants you have everywhere and it is the Chinese people working there. They are sharing their culture with the Americans. I have also noticed you could go into a store like the Wal-Mart in Cancun, Mexico and find similar items we have here but it is different there in Cancun to fit the means for their culture. But it was great ideas they had selling it to their standards.


By changing the world from the people communicating and the ideas moving faster then ever, with new technology making this happen, globalization has become an amazing thing of today and will continue in the future for the new and improved ways which are changing from around the world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Reinhardt’s Oktoberfest

Reinhardt’s Oktoberfest was an event where students could hang out with their friends, eat a little food, play a few games, and learn everything about Germany. Oktoberfest is such a big deal that it is even celebrated in The United States. When the typical person hears that name, they more than likely automatically think about the drinking and partying that happens throughout the month.  At Reinhardt, there was obviously not going to be any alcohol provided, but regardless we got everything else about Oktoberfest during the event. A lot of effort was put into this event and it was evident which we all greatly appreciate. The way it was set up was a really creative way to fit a lot of information in and for us to have fun learning it.

We were given a passport when we first walked in. The goal was to visit each booth that represented different parts of Germany, get a stamp, and turn in the completed stamp passport in for a free tshirt. If there is one thing that will motivate people to walk around and get a stamp, it’s a free t-shirt. That was a fun way to ensure we all wanted to visit each individual booth. At the same time the booths were teaching about Germany, they were also showing us what clubs were happening at Reinhardt and we were able to sign up for these clubs they were advertising. The stamps not only motivated students to visit all the booths, but it also allowed for us to see the happenings of Reinhardt at the same time we were taking in information about another culture many of us are not familiar with.

Pretzels were provided at the event because even though it is a food that wasn’t created in the country, it was still seen as a staple snack and has since become a part of the German diet. It was such a simple food but portrayed something that was important to the people of Germany. Cornhole was also a game that was provided at the event. It is a game that looks really easy, but proves to be more difficult when you are not able to perfectly throw the bean bag into the raised platform with a hole but into it. Someone also mentioned that Germany was the country that is credited for coming up with this popular tailgating game.

This event was a great way for the student body to all get together and learn about Germany. It also was a way to let off some steam from the stressful semester that was starting to emerge for all of us. Corn hole was definitely a great addition to the event, because it is a game that many of us have played a thousand times before. Reinhardt’s Oktoberfest was a great success and I know all of us a great time.

Fall of the Wall

Fall of the Wall was an event that was held in order to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This was such a historical event that I was not alive during since I was born at the end of 1990. It was a great opportunity to learn a little more about the history instead of just during a history lesson. The event seemed to be very well thought out and there was even a game relating to the wall and German food for us to enjoy. I thought this event would be fun to attend because of my German heritage and also the fact that I was not really all that acknowledgeable about what all the fall of the Berlin Wall entailed. Unfortunately, I was only able to make the tail end of the event due to a late night at work. However I was still able to enjoy the information I gathered while I was there.


                When I first walked into the event, I noticed they had set up a game. This was a small wall made up from blocks and the objective was to knock down all of the blocks in one try with a soccer ball. From what I gathered, those who succeeded were given a bag of candy that had facts attached to the pieces that related to the Berlin Wall as well as the year of 1989. I, however did not get the chance to play this creative game because by time I showed up everyone one was already in groups having great conversations over what they had just learned.

                Another great part about this event was the food.  I am half German so I love my families German food. Being from a family that has German heritage, I easily recognized some of the delicious food I was used to eating at my house. Things like Bratwurst and Liverwurst are some of the foods I enjoy most. Even though I have had these foods before, it was still fun to eat and enjoy food from a part of the world that is not commonly seen as it would be in Germany. The food was definitely a nice touch to sort of bring us closer in with the culture of the country.

Another piece of information that I gathered was that when the Berlin Wall was still standing, people were allowed to paint on it. At the event, I had noticed that they had set up a wall made of paper and allowed for everyone to draw whatever all over it. This was a fantastic idea to help send the the point home as to how it must have been with Berlin Wall.

Although I didn’t not get the chance to see this entire event from start to finish I enjoyed my time and the idea that the people had who put event together. I learned about all these historical events that happened several years and maybe even centuries before my time. It’s weird to think of how if I lived through that time, how would I have dealt with that whole problem. Furthermore, what events am I living through now that will change history that people will look back on and write blogs about.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cosplay Is More Than Just a Hobby, It's A Life Style

Ryan Licht

1. Abstract

Have you ever wondered about the artistically talented culture of cosplay?   In this research paper I reveal the history and culture of where cosplaying came from. I investigate what differentiates a cosplayer from art to just wearing a costume.  the results on how people outside and inside view the group of people who cosplay. I also inform the reading audience of the discrimination that imposed on to cosplayers. Other accounts of cosplayers and cosplayer writers will be noted on how they feel on being a cosplayer. By studying the psychology of bullying, discrimination, and cosplay, the audience will have a better understanding of how people think. I elaborate on the different reactions that were observed during my survey in the public. This research is important in informing the audience of this sub-culture group of what cosplay really means to those who participate and how people who do not, view eachother. 

2. Intro & Thesis

Picture yourself in a place filled with all of your favorite movie characters walking around like it was just a normal day. These places exist as conventions where cosplayers dress as
characters from every media source.  Cosplay is far more than just pretending to be a fictional character. It is a way of escaping reality and becoming someone else. It is both an art form and entertainment. The costume and the process involved in designing and making or choosing an outfit is art. The act of wearing it and acting out the character is entertainment. Cosplay is a way of being creative and unique through costume role playing, socializing, and having fun. But how much of cosplay is truly art and how much is entertainment? What makes cosplay different from merely wearing a costume as a school mascot or a kid on Halloween? It is a lifestyle which uses identity to enhance performance as a way of expressing self and making connections with others. Through my research, I will investigate the cosplaying history and culture to reveal what cosplay is to cosplayers and others who do not partake in this sub-culture.  

3. History of Cosplay

Cosplay has a complex and confusing history. It is debated amongst cosplayers whether it started in North America or Japan. Cosplay grew out of costume fandom which started at the first Worldcon in 1939. For several years, this kind of costuming was only found in science fiction and fantasy conventions in North America. It wasn’t until Nov Takahashi first coined the term “cosplay” that the phenomenon of “costume play” came to be. He started an entire Japanese cosplay movement with his coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles Sci-Fi Worldcon in Japanese sci-fi magazines. The idea took hold in Japanese readers, imaginations and in turn they made it their own by dressing as their favorite anime characters. In a matter of a few years, fans began to dress as these characters at comic book and sci-fi events. Cosplay was then reintroduced to America in a much larger scale than before in the mid-1990s as manga and anime began to become popular and spread across the nation (Flynn 2012).  Cosplay in North America started with costuming. In North America costuming was heavily influenced by the long history of masquerade in Europe and the creation of the holiday Halloween. Therefore Americans have separated cosplay with earlier costume costume-wearing traditions such as masquerade and Halloween by East (Japan) and West (North America) (Napier 2001). For Americans cosplay is all about making your own costume and competing or showing it off for pride at conventions or events. There is a heavy emphasis put on being original and creative with your designs. It is practiced by people of all ages and from all different circles of life (Flynn 2012). For a while cosplay in North America has been associated with what some may consider geeks, nerds, weird-o’s, and freaks. However, according to my friend Anthony Tinnermon, most cosplayers are younger and for the most part just average people. Apparently he isn’t the only one that thinks so, when interviewed by The New York Times, this is what one person had to say, “The fans of this genre are getting younger. It’s not the stereotype of a 40-year-old male fan living in his mom’s basement. It’s actually a lot of women.” (Lamerichs 2011).  In my observation at DragonCon, I found most of this to be truth. Most of the cosplayers at the convention were indeed younger and mostly women. I could tell that originality and creativity were very important to the cosplayers there because there was so much variety in people’s costumes and even ones that were dressed as the same character had their own variation or unique twist to the costume. For instance, stormtroopers may look similar in design, as most try to have some weathering or unique piece of material that makes them stand out amongst the rest. The concepts of competition and pride were also evident because there was a costume contest that several serious cosplayers decided to be a part of and everywhere I looked, people were posing for pictures and showing off their costumes. 

4. Cosplay and Japanese Culture

Cosplay is a large part of the Japanese culture of youth today. In Japan there isn’t as much emphasis put on making the costume and competing as it is on having fun and taking pictures (Flynn 2012). But the Japanese also take cosplay more seriously than Americans. There can’t just be a casual fan of something. They are so serious about cosplay that they even have their own chain cosplay costumes stores, where people can go buy professionally made costumes. Most Japanese find the appeal of dressing up as an anime, manga, or game character as normal, largely because they see these characters all the time on TV and they are therefore glorified and treated just like pop stars or famous icons. However, unlike famous actors or rock stars, the fans can’t actually meet these characters, so they dress as them instead to give themselves a chance to become them. Unlike in North America, cosplay in Japan is not thought to be restricted only to video games, manga or anime characters, but can encompass dressing in all sorts of outfits: maid, nurse, schoolgirl, etc. (Napier 2001). Also, cosplay in Japan is a huge hobby of teenage females (Flynn 2012).  Naturally, this popularity of cosplay has heavily influenced Japanese fashion with the creation of Gothic and Lolita stlyes.  Lolita fashion first had its start in the early to mid-1990's. It first started among Japanese schoolgirls inspired by the band Malice Mizer and in particular by the band’s guitar player whose unique style consisted of black and white ruffled dresses, elaborate bows, false eyelashes and heavy white makeup. Over time this look and the Lolita style of fashion became closely associated with cosplay (Holson 2005). In fact, it has become its own type of cosplay and thus is not just about clothing. Teenagers who wear Lolita engage in activities such as tea parties, ballroom dancing, and playing children’s games like hopscotch, jump rope and hide-and-seek. It is these innocent and cute activities that explain how Lolita reflects a lifestyle of modesty and youthfulness (Neko 2008). Lolita is an example of how cosplay is not just costuming or fashion; it is a lifestyle. People choose to act that way and participate in those activities because that is how they express themselves.  Another type of fashion or style closely associated with cosplay is steampunk. This style has a distinct Victorian look to it. What sets a steampunk character apart from just standard Victorian garb are the accessories. In cosplay, a steampunk character has several elaborate, ornate, and detailed accessories usually clashing modern or futuristic technology with old steam-powered technology. An example of this would be a ray gun made of wood and metal. Just as a cosplayer’s character is a part of a separate fantasy universe, steampunk has its own universe which allows people to act or do improv within usually in group. Cosplayers do this as well. They get groups of cosplayers within the same series or universe and create scenarios to act out and play in (VanderMeer, Chambers 2011). Another Cosplaying group that has become famous for its charity works would be the infamous 501st Legion. The 501st Legion (Albin 2011) is a Star Wars fan club dedicated to celebrating the Star Wars universe through costuming; specifically the costumes and characters of the stormtrooper and other Imperial forces, as well as non-affiliated villains and denizens. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work. 

5. The Costume & Identity

The costume is one of the ways a cosplayer expresses him or herself. It is a form of visual expression. The costume is used to build character, concept, and physical movement. The costume is not just made or chosen to be simply looked at, but to create the best visual representation of the character chosen (Cahill 2006). In choosing or making a costume, a cosplayer is taking on an identity and is genuinely becoming a character. Therefore, when picking a character, a cosplayer must think about choosing a character they are attached to and can play well. Anthony Tinnermon explained to me in our interview that he chooses to buy his costume because he knows if he tried to make it he wouldn’t be able to successfully portray his character.  However, there are several cosplayers out there that can make better costumes than you could ever buy. These cosplayers express themselves through creativity and being unique. They consider costume making an art. By manufacturing their costumes themselves, these cosplayers express themselves artistically and share their interests and inspiration with others thus allowing them to make deeper connections with people. People will appreciate the work and effort you put into the costume and thus compliment you on the costume because it is interesting to them. They will recognize your character and thus engage with you socially because they share a similar interest. When interviewed by The New York Times at a convention in San Francisco, a woman said, “You don’t know everyone, but you know their characters, so it’s a good icebreaker,” At this same convention a photographer was very impressed with the way the individuals she observed could tap into so many genres to express themselves. She said, “They can float in so many different worlds that most of us don’t,” she says. “Gender, culture, race. It doesn’t matter. It’s open-ended, really.” She goes on to explain how she felt a mutual respect between her and the strangers she was photographing.( Cahill  2006).During my observation at DragonCon, I experienced something very similar. I felt drawn to characters that I recognized and was more comfortable engaging socially with those people because I shared a similar interest in their character. I didn’t have any trouble asking to photograph them, because to me I only recognized them as the character and the identity they had taken on. So in a way I felt closer to them, than I would have if they hadn’t had that identity and been merely a stranger to me.  

 6. The Act of Cosplaying & Performing

The true essence of “cosplay” is really becoming the character and acting like them (Flynn 2005). This is the other way a cosplayer expresses himself. By not only taking on the identity of a character but by becoming them and acting just like they would if they were real, the cosplayer can almost become an entirely different person. According to a fellow 501st member, performing is about expressing your admiration for the character you’ve chosen to cosplay. It is about being able to temporarily become the character you think is admirable. In my interview, Kyle made it clear by saying, “I see cosplay as a good opportunity to be someone else for a little while, someone that I think is an amazing character and I can enjoy dressing up as. It’s also a great and fun way to socialize.”  During my time spent at DragonCon, I noticed several people who not only accurately looked like their characters, but were in character and interacted with people just like their character would have done. Also, whenever someone wanted to take a picture, they had a pose that went perfectly with their character. Several cosplayers, when one spoke to them, spoke with accents or dialogue that their characters use. Some people even acted out scenes together with other people who were characters in the same series. Others created scenarios between characters from all kinds of series.  

7. Discrimination against Cosplayers

Throughout my research and participation in cosplay, I have come to notice resentment from people who do not cosplay. These discriminators are people who follow the mainstream social norms. Unlike the culture in Japan, most Americans view sub-cultural groups or out-groups negatively. Because social discrimination results from the generalization of in-group attributes to the inclusive category, it becomes a criterion for judging the out-group. (Mummendey 1999)  “I feel that it is important to express your feelings about something you love instead of hiding it.”(Anime-e 2011). Being a cosplayer and a writer, the author known as Anime-e felt as if her particular group was being discriminated against. Her group is an anime group which likes to dress as their favorite characters from their favorite shows. The writer states that there are many people who laugh or make jokes about the people displaying in public and believes this is discrimination. As a cosplayer, the author has also experienced being bullied by people, being called horrible names and insults. Anime-e gives many examples of this discrimination across the country. Being insulted for something you love can be stressful on the individual because all they are doing is enjoying and expressing their feelings about something that they are passionate about. To prove that this discrimination was truly happening, I took it upon myself to experiment with people in public for testing grounds. I took the opportunity to wear my stormtrooper armor at the Best Buy where I work. There I stood in front of the store in full armor and greeted shoppers, while my girlfriend, on the side, wrote down the expressions and reactions I received. This particular day also happened to be the day for the Star Wars bluray release, so my being there was not totally unexplainable. Out of all the reactions and expressions I received, I found them to be surprisingly rude! I was either told that I had "too much free time" or to acting like I did not exist. But there was hope from the data I received; some appreciated what was doing! I had many fathers and mothers come up and say that they would come back and bring their kids. These people made me feel like a celebrity versus the majority that made feel like I was scum or invisible.  Street preachers are some of the few that also take it upon themselves to preach in front of conventions, literally telling cosplayers and fans alike that they are going to hell because of the activity that they are taking part of. This is just another form of discrimination towards cosplayers who may or may not believe in Christ. Why should cosplayers be any different from artists and actors who are usually glorified in the church community? It is our constitutional right under the First Amendment to wear clothing that displays writing or designs. In addition, the right of an individual to freedom of association has long been recognized and protected by the United States Supreme Court Counstitution thus, a person’s right to wear the clothing of his or her choice, as well as his or her right to belong to any club or organization of his choice, is constitutionally protected. Discrimination not only comes from outside the cosplaying group; it also comes from the inside. Some cosplayers believe that cosplay is about dressing as anime characters or anything that derives from Japanese culture and nothing else. They do not consider Star Wars cosplay since it is a film of US origin. But Star Wars has been mostly accepted as cosplay from the majority. 

8. Entertainment, Social Connection, & Fun

The cosplay lifestyle consists of two parts: creating or choosing the costume and becoming the character and performing as them. The costume construction is a form of visual art. The acting out of the character is performance art. Ultimately, the performance is the key element of cosplay that allows the cosplayer to fully express himself and make social connections. This is because it is simply not enough to just wear a costume of a character and not portray them and feel any desire to become them. The cosplay lifestyle is not about costuming but about costume roleplaying. It is necessary to have both parts, but the truth is, the costume just adds to the performance aspect. The costume is chosen or made to add more authenticity to the performance of the character and help not only build the outside appearance of the character but to the build the character from within the cosplayer (Cahill 2006). A costume expresses what interests a cosplayers might have, but it is only the performance that explains why the cosplayer has interest in their character and how it expresses who they are. Although cosplay is art, at its core the role of cosplay is to entertain. And just like actors in a theater production, a cosplayer’s performance and portrayal of a character is significantly more important than his costume. A person is not actively engaging in cosplay if he or she is not attached to a
character to know enough about them to act out their character. By performing or acting as the character, a deeper social connection is created between cosplayers. This is because the viewer can connect on a more personal level with the character itself than they can with just how they look. Whether it’s through certain mannerisms, dialogue, or emotions, a cosplayer makes his character relatable by performing. If the character isn’t relatable, then no social connection will be made. This social connection is absolutely necessary to make the cosplaying experience fun. Although the costume manufacturing or purchasing can be done individually, the performance must be done with or around others whether it’s in a small group, a large crowd, or just to one person. It is a public lifestyle, not private. Cosplayers must perform and share their characters with others in order to express themselves, socially connect to people, and have fun.   

9. Conclusion

 My research of cosplaying history and culture reveals what cosplay is to cosplayers and to others who do not partake in this sub-culture. Important pieces of cosplay revolve around these three things: expression of the self, making social connections, and having fun. These are the central elements of the cosplay lifestyle. Cosplayers participate in this lifestyle by choosing, making, and doing. First they choose an identity, then they make the costume for that identity, and finally they become that character through acting. The fun of cosplay is found in making a fictional character come to life by becoming that character. Discrimination is also found amongst cosplayers as they find themselves to be the out-group from society. Although cosplay is both art and entertainment, it is more entertainment than art because it is the performing of the character chosen that creates the ultimate form of personal expression and creates the strongest connections with other that share similar interests.


Monday, November 25, 2013

What do you get if you cross the Atlantic Ocean with the Titanic? About halfway!


      I.        Intro


You could say that my family is very lucky. The story that Family was told by my Great Grandfather “Tata” or “Wielki Dziadzia,” grandpa in Polish, to my Great Uncle Al that is that the day my Great Grandfather arrived in New York City on April 12,1912, he got word via telegraph that the Titanic went down that afternoon.  He was planning on taking the ship to cross over the Atlantic; though, he probably would have been in third-class since he did not have too much money. However, as fortune would have it, someone stole his money and was unable to pay for the Titanic. Eventually he found enough money and took another ship the next day which beat the Titanic and safely arrived to New York City at Ellis Island. There he heard the tragic news about the sinking on the North Atlantic Ocean.  Just think, if my Great Grandfather had been on the Titanic, I, my mom, and my Grandpa would have never been on earth. This one tragic incident could have ended the culmination of what makes up my heritage and the three main cultural roots that really stand out in me.
    II.        Creativity

Creativity is just one aspect that can be traced back through my cultural roots. For years now I have been in love with the art of film making and bringing movie props to life. I recently received a national Telly award for a production I directed at my University of study, Reinhardt. Also, as a hobby, building props, especially from favorite scifi films, has played a major role in my life. With my prop building skills, I gained access to a very prestige costuming group known as the 501st Legion. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work. These cultural roots, however, go way back to at least the 1900s with a famous actor, Vincent Price.

Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite his lasting association with the world of horror, Price started out as a dramatic actor. His tall, lanky frame and distinctive voice lent themselves nicely to character parts. Price enjoyed success in many arenas outside of cinema; he made numerous television appearances, ranging from The Brady Bunch to the TV series Batman. In the 1980s, he hosted the PBS series Mystery. He also added an ominous air to the Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" video, by delivering an opening monologue. Price was the youngest of four children born to an upper-middle-class family. His father, Vincent Leonard Price Sr., served as the president of a candy company, and he had a cultured upbringing. Vincent Leonard Price also had a brother named Anthony Price and had many children. Anthony Price’s youngest Child was my Great Grand Mother Henrietta Price-Johnson, which connects me with one of my all-time idols in the film industry.

My cousin Alex Johnson, which is my Grand Father’s brother’s son, was a big history buff and had a love for the theatrics. He was doing a family tree research and knew that his grandmother Gordinier said her grandfather was in the Civil War. In fact her own aunt outlived her by four years and died in 1980. She would tell Alex about her dad. He used to play “Civil War” with his brothers when he was little and ended up joining the New York Engineer group in 1991 and then a local infantry unit (140th NY Vol. Infantry) in 1992.  When major film productions came to Buffalo New York, Alex was very eager to be a part of the experience. However, they said he was too "green" during the summer of 1992 for the filming of "Killer Angels / Gettysburg" but by the fall of 2001 he was well seasoned and found out they needed lots of extras who had their own uniforms and equipment for the film Gods and Generals .The production crew provided him with all the ammo and caps that he needed for the scenes. “It was a real cool experience, surreal with the various actors.” This was a very different experience than a typical reenactment since they were shooting the same scene over and over again. He did four different scenes over two days. Two as a Federal and two Confederate. He said that he sees reenacting as a combination of Boy Scouts, playing cowboys and Indians, an extention of his teaching and just having fun! He concluded by saying that “No one really dies!”

   III.        Traditions

Another part that makes up my cultural roots is the traditions that have been pasted down for generations with in my family. One of these traditions is the Licht family’s famous chowder. Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew (or thickened soup), often served with milk or cream and mostly eaten with saltine crackers. Chowder is usually thickened with broken up crackers, but some varieties are traditionally thickened with crushed ship biscuit. However, our Chowder has its own recipe which makes it unique amongst the standard. The Licht family’s chowder was passed down for over three generations on the licht side of the family. It was near the great depression where times were hard when our chowder was created. During this time, food was hard to come by so my family had to make the food to last. This is the reasoning behind the abundance of chowder that is made today. Our chowder is not a stew but its closer to a soup. The ingredients consist of beef, chicken, and other assorted vegetables. This is not to mention of the secret ingredient that mixed in. The chowder takes several hours to make. Typically, my family starts the night before. The way to tell when the chowder is ready is by checking the potatoes. You will start to notice the cubed potatoes becoming round.

Over 3 generations another family tradition has been the annual firing of the family shot gun. Celebratory gunfire is the shooting of a firearm into the air in celebration, especially on holidays like New Year's Eve. However, the practice may result in random death and injury from stray bullets. Because of this, my family uses bird shot, which is far less lethal and will typically just fall to the ground without reaching terminal velocity. This particular tradition has always been a family favorite and will remain a part of my family culture.


  IV.        Service

Service has been a striving cultural root with in my family. Throughout high school, I was a part of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. I was very dedicated to being a part of a cultural that strengthened me physically and mentally. In my senior year of High School, I was the second in command of the entire Corps of over fifty cadets. Again, these cultural roots can be traced way back within my family as a very honorable tradition.

Defending our Nation is the ultimate calling of our troops, but there are many other facets of life for a military family member beyond war. The military is a rich culture of tradition, honor, and sacrifice and has a part of my family for generations. On Italian side of the Licht family, my Great, Great Grandfather, Anthony Maloney served under Mussolini’s rule in Italy. Contrast on the German side of the family, Great, Great Grandfather Adolf Licht served under Kaiser Wilhelm. My Great Grandma Maloney’s brother, Howard Walker, served in the United States Army in World War II. My household still has the two items he found during the war. The items were a Bayonet and officer sword taken frome dead Nazi. Unfortunately, it is said that Howard walker slept walked off the second story of his barracks the night he was scheduled to come back home. To this day, my family believes he may have been murdered.

The fire department has also been a large part of my family’s culture. My Great grandfather John Licht served the army during peace time and also the fire department in North Tonawanda New York. At the same time Great grandfather Maloney served just Tonawanda fire department. There children would eventually become my Grandparents on the Licht side of the family. My father continued the tradition and served the St. Johnsburg volunteer fire company as a captain. Later he would get married in the Fire hall to my mother.

   V.        Conclusion

In my conclusion, the three main cultural roots that truly represent me are creativity, traditional, and service. These roots are shown through my actions and bring meaning to my life. There are, however, so much more history out there within my family that I have yet to discover. This research paper not only helped me trace back some brief history of my family but helped spark an interest in my entire family lineage. Though most of the family members I discussed in this paper are gone, they still live on in me and the culture I will pass down someday to my children.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pop Culture and Globlization

By definition, pop culture is the entirety of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images, and other phenomena that are within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid-20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Pop culture is at the heart of everything; from the latest fast food restaurant to treads in fashion and art. The spread of consumerism and technology has furthered the pop culture influence, transcending ethnic barriers and promoting a melting pot of accepted values. Within recent years an explosion in technology has placed virtual culture in the hands of individuals.

Internet and television have not only revolutionized ways in which we share and spread information but also in the ways each culture interacts as a whole. The internet has the power to connect people from across the globe. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have literally changed the face of information sharing. In just seconds, a search may produce a million different results or connect people on different sides of the globe. Information may be shared instantly to anyone who has technology to access it. This, like television, has the power to spread cultural norms and change them.

Television is perhaps the biggest pop culture influencers. The popularity of shows such as Glee within in the united states, have spread American customs across the world like Prom. People from around the world become aware of these rituals and integrate them into their once distinct cultures. If you were to visit a different country, you may be shocked to see how closely foreign programing parallels American based television. For example, the British show “Essex” resembles American’s show “the Jersey Shore.” Through the process of globalization, countries all over the world are taking cues from foreign television. America is also influenced through the spread of media. TV series such as “Big Brother” and “The Office,” which were popular in Britain, influenced the American spin off which share their names and likeness. Movies such as “Godzilla” and “The Ring” are all based on films that were originally Japanese. Through globalization and the spread of culture distinct programming, American Television and Film makers are able to transform these media into striking parallels of ethnic similarity.

Although Americans do take cues from other nations, most would argue that the spread of our pop culture is by far the biggest influencer across the globe. This is evidence in the power American television shows have to influence things beyond the media. Not only our culture customs are mimicked, but the popularity of shows aggressively promotes music, brands, and restaurants resulting in worldwide imitation. The advertisement of American brands in television shows has also made American brands popular in other countries as well.

A great example of the spread American popular culture would be McDonalds. What started out as a good old fashioned American food joint has spiraled into a global phenomenon that is one of the world’s leading food service retailers serving people in one hundred countries every day.  Well known food chains such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks are American staples yet they also practice globalism through the spread of their brand names. America has also taken hold of foreign brand names such as Hello Kitty and Pok√©mon, proving that the spread of globalism is not strictly reserved to the United States.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Children and Fire: Review and analysis

Ryan Licht


Children and Fire:

Review and analysis

This year I have been given the opportunity to read a great novel called the Children and Fire by Ursula Hegi. This novel is a great example for what German culture was like during Hitler’s third reich. The story begins in the winter of 1934, in Fraulein Thekla Jansen's classroom. We start off reading a discussion about what happened one year ago, in Berlin, when a fire destroyed the parliament building. Addionally, with the anniversary of the burning, speculation has been rampant; leading to many theories as to who caused the attack. One theory is that communists torched the building, while another is that Nazis did the deed to frame the communists. The town is paranoid that the same accident can happen in this village. Jansen's students voice their concerns, with possible solutions for flight to safety. The teacher feels it is her duty to settle wild imaginations, yet remain within the rules set forth for her profession by the government. She admits to them that she, too, was afraid on the nights following the Reichstag's burning.

Thekla has grown up in this village striving to teach in the convent classroom. However, this means she gets to replace someone she loves and admires. Fraulein Siderova loses her position because Adolf Hitler has decreed that Jews can no longer hold such a position. Thekla is offered her mentor's job but is embarrassed to visit the woman. She is conflicted by the changes she sees in her country, but cannot rise to object. Her job itself may be at risk for the least impropriety.

Thekla rents a room in the home of one of her students, Bruno Stosick, landing in the middle of family turmoil. Bruno's father opposes the rallies that are held by Hitler's command, which plant strong political emotions in Germany's youth. Bruno is forbidden to attend these youth rallies. His mother has to walk Bruno to school and picks him up afterward, to his embarrassment. To attend the rallies, Bruno sneaks out at night when he feels his parents are asleep. Thekla observes him sneaking out at night and is conflicted. Thekla knows that she should intervene and let the parents know. But she prefers to ignore the purpose of these youth meetings, thinking that Bruno will become accepted by his peers if allowed to attend.

Further on, the chapters delve into the year of 1934 where Hegi illustrates how people had to deal with the fears they had by rules and regulations that were being enforced from their central government. Hitler took over a country from deep depression, bringing in new mandates that the citizens may not understand but promised a renewed and stronger Germany. On a daily basis, propaganda from radio broadcasts, tireless salutations to the Fuhrer, changes in administration of daily workplace duties and endless animosities against Jews keep the people in emotional disorder. Thekla loses several students when their families pack and move to America. But Bruno and the others defy logic and don the uniforms that give them unity.



Throughout the novel, Hegi illustrates on backstory chapters that tell of earlier times, beginning in 1899. In these chapters, Hegi discusses Thekla’s background. Her beloved father has married her mother, a girl pregnant with another's child. The boys resent the fact that she travels with her mother to be a housekeeper for the wealthy Jewish businessman, Herr Abramowitz, and his wife, Ilse. The family spoils her with manners, clothing and education that her father cannot afford. Behind her back, the rumors fly about how spoiled she has become. Later, she accepts courtship from Emil, who is known for his revolutionary thinking. He tries to enlighten her about their government, but she ignores his unconventional statements, terrified of losing her job.


Being a German writer, Hegi deploys heavey use of German language throughout the book. Thi is personally fascinating and bring a more realistic feel when reading a story over German culture.The Character Thekla is interesting in that we want to admire her but not the things that she does. She feels stiff at times, taking obvious measures to avoid conflict. I did enjoy how Hegi used her character to illustrate pivotal moments in history. Ultimately, Hegi tells a story where one society that has a strong education system, cultural, and compassionate can slip into a reality that’s fabricated by propaganda and controlled by fear.         How one man can manipulate a nation into the dehumanization of a perceived enemy and the justification of torture and murder.
 A link to a summary and where to purchase the Children and Fire.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ethnography provides a real world way of looking at a problem or opportunity, applying social and cultural understanding to the topic. What this means is that ethnography provides a wide range of answers that, if analyzed properly, go well beyond the tactical, the sensational, and the superficial. True ethnography includes a rigorous process of data collection and analysis using a scientific method, which ensures that findings are based on a careful examination of the data and not a focus on the most dramatic video clips or quotes.

The first step into a sub culture you want to study should be finding someone within that sub group. This insider is your ticket into the sub culture and discovering everything there is to know from an anthropologist perspective. This can be easily done by either contacting a friend who is part of a sub culture or through a friend of a friend. It also doesn’t hurt to contact someone in the sub culture even if you do not know them. Additionally, it is important that this client or friend is well versed in his culture that he or she is a part of and is willing to share detailed information about their sub culture.

Once you've found your way into a sub culture, you need to set up a time to interview them and experience their culture. First, ethnography provides an opportunity to find out what people actually say and do. By creating a taxonomy, you will be able to catalog the different terms or attributes that your client gives you. However, the questions that you give might lead answers that contain personal opinion and their cultural opinion put together. It isn't that people lie, it's that culturally defined ideals may not correspond to the realities of daily life. In addition, people often weed out information that they believe is extraneous to the topic at hand. Use observational and interviewing techniques to collect data that will provide a full understanding of the context surrounding the topic at hand. This background information of data is often overlooked or weeded out by participants. Because of this, it is better that you pay attention to human behavior from many angles, uncovering opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked.

Finally, it is recommended that you set up another interview with your contact or friend using your taxonomy you have created. It is at this stage that you discuss the meaning of all the cultural categories you have obtained. Through thorough questioning about the categories, you can gain a better understanding of each category. This allows you with full and complete perspective on the sub culture you have been studying.


By following these steps you should have no problem creating a ethnography on the sub culture you are studying. It is important to note that two members of a group might not reflect the entire sub cultures view on the way they live. The more effort you put into learning the sub culture, the better you will be able to understand a completely different culture then your own.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Coping with Stress: An Ethnography of Firefighters

Ryan Licht



Coping with Stress

An Ethnography of Firefighters

When I was younger, I always wanted to be a firefighter like my father. As a child, I am videos and images of firefighters doing amazing things and that nothing in the world could affect them. However, there is a dark side to firefighters that many don’t know or understand. A large portion of firefighters suffer from a side effect that comes from doing all those daring rescues.

While my father was a firefighter, I got the chance to visit the fire station many times. I will never forget the comfort and relaxed atmosphere I received from there. Quite specifically, I will never forget their comfy run down couch they had at the station.  Life at the station is described by Alex Rubenstein as laid back and a place for camaraderie. This correlates with my personal experiences with the station. The station exists as a safe haven from the chaotic world that they face every day. It serves as a home, a counselor, and a place to unwind. With the firefighters pulling 24 hour shifts, they are able to gain relationships and a strong sense of solidarity. Any relationship begins at the station is strengthened through the challenges they face outside the station.  Although the station gives off a calm and relaxed atmosphere, it can change in a moment’s notice.

Once the call is made, the station becomes a place that would seem to contradict its previous description. The entire station is blasted into action with everyone moving with a sense of urgency. Each fire station has a team whose members need to work closely together when responding to calls. Trust and the ability to work together are of the utmost importance. Additionally, working together helps create a support group to help coupe the life threatening situations. More so, the firefighters tend to gain resilience to the stress.  “You get used to it. I mean, there have been a number of times where I was eatin’ dinner, and right in the middle of dinner get a call and go over and somebody has died. I mean you just get so used to it, you see it so much of it that it doesn’t even bother you anymore” (John  169). The routine the firefighters go through numbs the shock of stress from freighting events. However, the firefighters do have ways to deal with any stress they do gain from their experiences.

Firefighters deal with stress in a number of ways.one way is to talk to the CISD team, fellow firefighters, police officers, and doctors. The other way to handle stress is through pranking one another. Pranks are essential in keeping the laid back atmosphere the station gives off. It is an important coping mechanism for firefighters. Pranks and joking work especially well because most firefighters are men, and men often use pranks and joking as a way to structure interpersonal relations and manage a hierarchy.

In conclusion, a large portion of firefighters suffer from a side effect that comes from life threatening situations. However, there many methods that the firefighters use to cope with stress. This can come from the atmosphere of the station or pranking the firefighters use on each other. Finally, we shouldn’t act as if firefighters are invincible. They are just as human as we are and deserve respect for the danger they face every day.