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Artist Spotlight: Why This? Why That? Why Now?

Bumbershoot’s popular lecture series (if you could even restrict it to that label) returns to the Words & Ideas stage for its third year.  Each day tackles a different set of current trends that seem to have taken our culture by storm in a perplexing manner. This year’s program will be moderated by the Brooklyn-based one man band known as Corn Mo. Each panel will feature Corn Mo’s musical interpretation of each topic, as well as resident experts on each trend who will discuss their respective both individually and in an engaging conversation with their counterpart. Audience members will be invited to participate in a Q&A session with each lecture.

Saturday’s Why Froyo? Why YOLO? Why Now? delves into the current fascination with froyo (frozen yogurt) and the YOLO (You Only Live Once!) lifestyle. Members of this discussion include Katie Hudson, Donna & Tom Hudson (Owners of Zoeyogurt) and Joel Watson (Creator of the web comic Hijinks Ensue).

Froyo emerged over the past few years as the healthy-lifestyle alternative to ice cream. Praised for its miraculous cultures and ability to be topped with just about any form of fruit or candy, froyo is everywhere. A trend that started in LA with expensive, snooty stores like Pinkberry, froyo stands have popped up in every corner of the country. Katie, Donna, and Tom Hudson join our panel as representatives of Zoeyogurt, and claim to be responsible for bringing self-serve, pay by the ounce, froyo to Seattle.


YOLO presents itself in two forms: the traditional, “adult” usage of the full phrase, “You Only Live Once,” and the recent re-appropriation of YOLO in popular culture as the result of rapper Drake’s song, “The Motto.” Host Corn Mo is well-versed in the “adult” method of YOLO: one of the most popular pieces of his act is the “rant” in which he advises audience members on the benefits of quitting one’s day job and pursuing your dreams full-time. Panel participant Joel Watson credits Corn Mo with his decision to abandon his day job and create his popular web comic Hijinks Ensue full-time. As for the modern interpretation, check out The Lonely Island’s parody of our obsession with the YOLO, carefree lifestyle, featuring Bumbershoot artist Kendrick Lamar:

Sunday’s program asks Why Fan Fiction? Why YA? Why Now? and deals with the recent outburst of fan fiction and young adult novels. The panel will feature Karen Finneyfrock (Author of Young Adult novel The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door) and Sharon Cumberland, Ph.D. (Ph.D. Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Seattle University). Fan fiction, the broadly-used term to define the stories and interpretations created by fans of the original work, has taken a variety of forms and seems to exist for every work imaginable. In a post-Harry Potter, post-Twilight literary world, the hold on the Young Adult (YA) genre is up-for-grabs once again. Panelist Karen Finneyfrock is a Seattle-based poet, novelist, and teaching artist. Originally known for her poetry, she made the successful transition to YA with the 2013 release of The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door.

Monday’s Why Boardgames? Why Zombies? Why Now? tries to unravel the appeal of games like Settlers of Catan or Dominion, why board games are getting popular in the age of video games, and why zombies have surged in interest yet again. The panel will feature game designer Charley Miller and Isaac Marion, author of Warm Bodies. Why do stores like Ballard’s Card Kingdom have such a loyal fan base in the digital era? Entire stores devoted to board games are opening in malls across the country, and the classic games we all grew up playing are making a comeback. The community of loyal board gamers is expanding, mimicking the path that video games followed to popularity.

Seattle author Isaac Marion represents the latest resurgence in zombie culture as the author of Warm Bodies, the popular “zombie romance” whose film adaptation was released in February 2013. Entire courses on zombies are offered at both UW and Seattle U, with UW being known for its expansive “Humans vs. Zombies” week-long game. From zombie novels to AMC’s The Walking Dead to Bumbershoot’s own Zombie spectacle this year, zombies have surely replaced vampires in our interest with the undead, and the panel sets out to discover why.