Sunday, October 6, 2013

Perks and Pitfalls of Bringing Non-Nerds to See a Geek God

Meeting the creators of my favorite art is one of the best experiences I've ever had and meeting them after they've just made new art is even better.

Sometimes, life gets in the way. Wil Wheaton was in Philadelphia on Friday night, but due to the fact that I'm poor and the holidays are looming and my car decided now would be a good time to shit out its transmission, I instead signed up to work a double shift. Now, for clarity's sake, I should note that my love for Wil Wheaton began in earnest when I read this post. I never was a big fan of Star Trek (and before anyone spams the shit out of me, I'll get around to watching all the Trekkie goodness eventually. It's just never been my thing). The point is, I love Wil Wheaton the writer/comedian/professional awesome dude/Sheldon nemesis, and I am unabashedly nerdy in professing such love. I am, in fact proud to call myself a nerd in all respects. And undaunted, I wanted to see me some Wil Wheaton, and no time and a half with a $.50 pay differential second shift was going to get in my way.

Hence a 60-minute car drive followed by a 90-minute train ride and a 20-minute cab ride from Philly to New York so I could catch his show the following night.

And it was glorious.

However, 170 minutes is a long time for a solitary journey, so I enlisted reinforcements in the form of my three good co-worker friends, among whom there are a total of zero nerds. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Want to head up to New York on Saturday?
Friends: Why?
Me: Wil Wheaton is doing a show.
Friends: *crickets*
Me: He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Friends: *slightly louder crickets*
Me: He was the main kid in Stand By Me.
Friends: *hooting of an owl over the sound of crickets*
Me: He's Sheldon's arch-nemesis on The Big Bang Theory
Friends: Oh, right, that guy. What kind of show?
Me: Stand up
Friends: Is he funny?

If we were allowed access to YouTube at work, I would've pulled up a few vids of his past stand-up and let that do the talking. But since we're not, the better part of the next hour was spent convincing my friends that Wil Wheaton was funny and ultimately, they decided that I rarely steer them wrong and plans were made to visit the home of the Yankees (who suck harder than a Hoover, for the record).

At this juncture, just so you know what a magical night it was, I bring you "Kitty Corliss", first brought to me by co-headliners Paul and Storm.

To be fair and honest, you do not need to be a nerd to appreciate either the hilarity of Paul and Storm, whose song "My Favorite Band" perfectly encapsulates how I feel about My Chemical Romance, or Wil Wheaton's story about spicy dick milk (the name of my Michael Jackson cover band). The non-nerds I brought into the fray were cracking up over Wil's hysterical stories and the awesome Paul and Storm songs. And after we left, each of them declared themselves brand new but very enthusiastic fans of both.


In a room full of geeks, I was sitting next to the people quietly, politely smiling during the references to Han shooting first, aiming to misbehave, and why his shirt was confusing to normal people. While I love converting the uninitiated, it's hard to explain the shorthand of nerd culture when you're rolling on the floor in glee. And the end of the evening is somewhat decimated when you recount the evening to your buddies and the explanation leaves them more baffled than the initial joke. There's a reason nerds gather amongst each other. We have the gene, and those who don't are confounded by our ways.

Since Wil Wheaton's name appears in this post a whopping nine times, I owe him one. He and his wife,  the lovely and sweet Anne Wheaton, are raising money for the Pasadena Humane Society and you can help them out with that here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Expiration Gaying: The Boy Scouts of America Permit Homosexuality for 18 Whole Years!

If you ask the Boy Scouts of America, being gay is the sexual identity equivalent of pooping your pants. It's fine for a child, but when a boy becomes a man, a man cannot be having that shit anymore. A boy can love a boy, but a man can't love a man.

Bypassing the pissing and moaning of parents who want to yank their children from the BSA (soon to be renamed The Great All-American Gay Porn Hub), the leaders of one of the largest youth organizations in one of the greatest countries in the world, in 2013 I might add, are squatting on their hopelessly dated policy of banning openly gay adults from serving as leaders, and they are not budging their tight, white, wrinkled, Conservative-cash-loving asses on that one.

Gay youth are being double-damned on this policy, because while their inclusion gives lip-service to a spirit of acceptance and progress, the gaping hole where their gay role models within the organization should be are empty. And that void is not silent. It's filled with the omnipresent threats of anti-gay organizations to pull funding because the very acknowledgment of gay individuals is an affront. It is filled with the constant shitstorm of media controversy that gay people find themselves at the center of simply by being open about who they are. The void is tacit compliance on the part of BSA's leaders to invite gay youth into the organization to be isolated, marginalized, and bullied on a public stage.

And yet, the BSA's historic vote today, the marginal good, the extensive bad, the exceedingly ugly, is progress. Those who advocate an end to the ban against gay people in it's entirety point out that gay boys grow up to become gay men--and they are entirely right. It's easy for the BSA to turn away leaders who are TEH GAY, that massive, faceless entity that they've conditioned themselves to believe impugn the masculinity and morality that the BSA strives to uphold. In ten years, when the openly gay youth who are admitted to the scouts next year apply for leadership positions, they will be Brian, and Andrew, and Steve, the highly decorated and able scouts looked up to by their younger troop mates. And it will be much harder to turn them away after a decade of service to the organization.

The BSA ban on gay leaders is still discrimination in all its ugly, ignorant glory, but the number of people being discriminated against is dwindling. We pause to acknowledge that victory, and then we fight on until that number is a fat, happy zero. The gay youth (and adults) of America are counting on it. The straight youth are, as well. When gay men and women are held up as leaders, based on their intelligence, compassion, and general decency, all kids learn that sexuality is a baseless reason to eschew anyone. It's a lesson worth learning, and a goal worth pursuing.

And today, we are one step closer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dude Days Are (Never) Over

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you are very familiar with the furry face pictured above. My dog Dude took up about 90% of my pictures because My God, look at that cute wittle face! Sadly that face is only in pictures now, because my precious little boy died on February 16th at the age of twelve, because one of the cruel realities of the universe is that pets don't live as long as their people. One of the few blessings in all this is that he died both suddenly and peacefully, with no pain, in his home with the family he loved, that loved him with all their hearts.

I was fifteen when we got Dude, Christmas Eve of 2000. LittleSis was twelve and BabySis was eight. If you have sisters, or daughters for that matter, you'll know that three girls of those ages under one roof are generally hellbent on each others' destruction at the exclusion of all else. But it was very fairly agreed that Dude could unite us, make us playful, fun, and kind to each other, because he wanted to play with all his sisters at once, dammit, and His Royal Furriness always got his way! (The baby of the family always does).

He was actually a giant pain in the ass.

From puppyhood on up, he never learned the difference between outside barking and inside barking. He could show off his "inside voice", sure, but only if he had absolute certainty that there was a treat in it for him. Otherwise, doorbells, conversations between people in two different rooms, construction work going on in the neighborhood, fireworks, the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China, all were met with a healthy (loud) dose of barking, courtesy of The Dude (His full first name. Not inspired by The Big Lebowski. Just want to make that clear.)

He also chewed shoes when he got pissed off at whomever owned whatever pair he was chomping on. He had a particular and uncanny habit of always choosing the left of any pair, because the vindictive little fur face wasn't content to just ruin a pair of shoes altogether when he could taunt us with a right shoe that was both perfectly serviceable yet utterly useless.

Finally, Dude was, and I say this with utter gravitas and no hint of hyperbole, the biggest chickenshit alive. Hiccups, sneezes, burps, thunder, other dogs, small woodland creatures (yes, even bunnies)? All terrifying to our little boy, and he would bolt from wherever they were with a speed that athletes shrink their testicles to achieve. Once, I got the hiccups while taking him on one of his beloved walks and he wrestled himself out of his collar to get away from the horror of it all.

Somehow, none of this takes away from the fact that he was the best dog in the world. There's nothing quite like coming home after a long, painful day of work to a flurry of jumping, puppy kisses, and barking that translates to ohwowi'msohappytoseeyouyou'remyfavoritepersoninthewholebigworldiloveyouyousmellexcitingletmesniffyoupetmelookmytail'swaggingaren'ticuteyou'rethebestpersoneverdidimentioniloveyou (The translation is accurate, I spoke fluent Dude).

Despite being all of thirty pounds when soaking wet, and, as previously mentioned, a total chickenshit, Dude possessed total assurance that the house was not safe until he'd done a thorough patrol and personally seen to it that everyone was safely tucked into their beds. When LittleSis moved out, he would stalk the upstairs hallway all night, every night, until he visited her apartment and understood that his human lived here now and all was once again right with the world. He would still be awake if BabySis or I went out until the early hours of the morning, and greet us with a thumping tail and sleepy kisses, bearing no grudge that we'd kept him up all night.

He instinctively knew when we were grieving or stressed. He sought out my parents, my sisters, and myself when we cried and curled up next to us, laying a silent head on our laps and gazing up at us with his loving brown eyes until we felt better. He even tolerated our cuddles when we needed some puppy time, a big sacrifice on his part. Dude usually took a very catlike attitude towards physical affection, only acceptable on his terms, although petting was always welcomed--sometimes encouraged by a sleek head burrowing under a stationary hand for a stroke between the ears.

He was completely in love with a live audience, prancing out in the middle of the room to chase his own tail whenever people had the temerity to be in his house without paying attention to him. He also pawed at our legs if we weren't giving him a baby talk speech about how cute he was and what a special, wonderful, perfect little boy he was. Luckily for us, the one regret none of us could ever possibly have is the idea that we took him for granted. No day was complete without playing with, petting, and gushing over our sweet, beloved, admittedly spoiled little boy.

Anyone who has never loved a pet might be completely unaware how incredibly human they can be, full of distinct personalities and quirks. Although Dude might be the only dog in history who wasn't a dog person, he was also one of the only dogs to capture the hearts of people who flat out do not like dogs, or even animals in general.  He made our family complete, and now we are missing my parents' son and our baby brother.

So here's to Dude. We had him for twelve years, we will love him for all our lifetimes.

The Dude
October 16, 2000-February 16, 2013
Perfect love, wrapped in fur