07 August 2011

Geeks, Sex, & Pandering: Yet Another Blog About It

With no particular structure outlined here, I find there are a few things I feel the need to say regarding this subject. I had posted a little relating to this back in April with the whole “Game of Thrones” catalyst that found me with a need to speak up. *In the interest of full disclosure I have still not seen “Game of Thrones” or read any of the novels on which it is based. My need to chime in then was primarily due to the sexist crap (among other things) that a particular review stirred up.

The latest onslaught into the fray seems to be due to a SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) panel entitled “Oh, You Sexy Geek!” that was moderated by one of my tweeps Katrina Hill (a.k.a. Action Flick Chick) and included panelists Bonnie Burton, Adrianne Curry, Clare Grant, Jill Pantozzi, Clare Kramer, Kiala Kazebee, Jennifer K. Stuller, Chris Gore. I did not witness this panel first-hand and as such only have the writings of those that were there to go by. If there were a tiniest inkling of the smallest chance that I could even afford to think about actually attending a SDCC event, I would have been proudly in the audience for this panel. My comments henceforth are related more to the issues I think this panel was hoping to address and my personal views relating to them. I have done my best to limit my information regarding this panel discussion to those that were actually there, so that all information I have gleaned relating to this specific discussion is at least first-hand.

To Pander or Not to Pander, Is That Even A Question? OR The Geek Problem

There has been allot of issue being taken in recent days, months, years about the attractive elite somehow pandering to the fan-ship of so-called geeky things. This has cause more than a few bad things to be said from multiple sides of the issue. The inherent problem is that these things are recipients of great amounts of passion by their fan base that it becomes a no-win situation. When there are many people who feel passionate about a particular subject, in a very personal way, there becomes no way to please all of these individuals. Voices of dissension will always become prevalent. This becomes especially noticeable with the recent upswing in "comic book movies" being made, more to the point the reviews of them.

Not to add further controversy to the discussion, but to illustrate my point, I'll use religion as a momentary metaphor here for just a moment (those might take offence to this usage have options: either 1) take it with a grain of salt and try to understand what I am getting at respecting the fact that I have stated that I wish not to stir up further controversy or 2) discontinue reading, or 3) skip to the next paragraph and try to keep up). Without picking on any theological particulars I will just say that there are several different schools of religious thought that claim to be the only true path. Each of these has people within the belief structure that will go to the death stating this as fact. All other beliefs are therefore wrong in the eyes of the people that are devout in this belief. With many of these religions, there is only small things that differentiate them from one another. The same can be said of comic book fans in regards to the movies made from them. These fans love a character/book for specific reasons and these reasons do not always coincide with reasons another fan of the same might have. For this reason, there are always going to be elements of the source material that will be included/excluded that will be loved/hated by the fans.

I guess the point I'm making here is that any attempt to make these films is in some way pandering to fans. Hell, the books themselves have pandered to the fans within the times they are published in for ages. Without a little pandering in this way, these characters would only exist in a time bubble and would never grow and become beloved in the longer term. However, this is not the definition of pandering that has become a hot button issue.

What we have instead is the perception of attractive (usually quite famous) people suddenly declaring a long-standing geekdom and a surge of long-time geeks crying shenanigans about the whole affair. One question becomes about whether they are true geeks, of faux-geeks hoping to capitalize on the latest popular thing. Another question that arises seems to be that is someone is popular and/or attractive, how could they possibly be a true geek. One thing many long time geeks have in common is that they were chastised by others for liking things that weren't considered popular. I have mentioned before that I am a guy that doesn't like sports, or care about cars much and as such was bullied for not being truly male. For me, it wasn't even about what I did like, but rather what I did not. Most of the geeks I know were not popular and those that managed to bridge the popular gap back in high school did so by maintaining a separation and keeping the geeky things they loved a closely guarded secret.

That said, who is to say that those that were unnoticed or felt the need to hide for the sake of survival couldn't be the popular (and even attractive) people of today?

Personally, just the fact that so many of the comics, movies, and other nerdy things I have enjoyed for so many years has become accepted enough for me to not worry quite so much about having to defend myself (and others) makes me happy. Many of the people who are actively bringing these things to the forefront are the people that felt the same way (or similar enough) as I did growing up. So, maybe there are a few famous-ish people out there that are hoping to get a little coat-tail riding in, so be it. It isn't like that hasn't happened before (look at "alternative" music if you don't believe). Maybe, we might end up with a few new people that will become genuinely as passionate as the old guard because of this perhaps unlikely introduction. Is it such a bad thing to hope that the next generation will not have to worry about an ass-whooping because of something they enjoy too? Acceptance is acceptance no matter how it comes about.

Society Should Realize That Sexy is Too Subjective to Be Objectified

Let me get up on the soapbox for just a minute here, if I may. One thing that I find particularly annoying about this whole affair is the supposed divide between the "attractive" and the rest of the masses. An argument could be made that there are certain standards by which beauty is based. But to this end it can also be said that this standard changes at least a little in every era. However, if a more individual approach is taken, these so-called standards tend to fall short of what attractiveness means for each person. Sure, there can be some consensus that could be met in some cases, but more often this is not necessarily the case. Since I am the only person I am qualified to use as an example, I will submit the following, which is a statement I have made often in the past in a multitude of formats and forums:
"I will not list some arbitrary traits that I would like my ideal match to have, personality or otherwise, that I do or do not like. I won't do that because each person is different. There is always someone out there that has a way of making a given trait work or not, depending."

What is meant by this is that, for me, there is no set checklist of what I find attractive (there are a few guidelines for what I don't, but that is for another time and place). Each person is an individual and I realized long ago that each person has to be judged on their own merits, and arbitrary lists of traits (especially superficially physical ones) will only hinder connecting with other people. Perceived attractiveness based solely on societal imposed standards should not be fodder for judgment of a persons sincerity.

The "Getting Along" Problem

Until each and every person learns to accept each and every other person for all of their differences as well as their similarities, there will always be people that can't get along. There is a strong likelihood that even if such universal acceptance could happen, there would still be people not getting along. I know I try to accept everyone and there are a sizable amount of people that annoy the hell out of me with regularity. But with passions for things that I discussed earlier, and the differences that the roots of these passions can have, problems such as these will not go away. The old concept of agreeing to disagree is all we can hope for in much of this, and perhaps that is our best recourse. I only hope that such action wouldn't close the door to discussion, because despite the differing points of view we may find some significant common ground, too. That is, if we are willing to try.

26 July 2011

Please Help Sha'an & I

I want to tell you about a little boy suffering with a severe kidney blockage. This is a debilitating condition that he, and his doctor, is fighting for his life with as I write this. In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that this boy is a cat.

Sha’an’s story is a complicated one. I will start at the beginning.
You see, his mother, Mina, was the cat of an ex-girlfriend of mine from ages ago. One thing that was a consistent irritation of said ex was that Mina had taken to me almost immediately. Oftentimes, animals will choose a person regardless of “ownership”. Anyone who knows animals understands this statement well enough. When the “break-up” happened it was decided that Mina’s pregnancy was too far along to allow for her to change residence with her “owner” until after the kittens were born.

Mina had some fairly interesting personal… shall we say quirks. I believe it will serve the story better to bring them up as they become relevant. I mention them now so that you will be more ready when the do find their way into this narrative.

It was a couple of weeks after the ex had moved out that Mina started acting strange. By strange I mean in that “these babies are about to come out” way.
I remember setting her up on the bed upstairs and feeling rather in need of something cold to drink. Figuring this could take a while, I tried to assure her that I would be back in just a moment. Mina would have none of that. I got to the refrigerator downstairs only to fine that she had followed me, panting and waddling the entire way. It was clearly a struggle for her to move that much, but she wanted me with her, Damnit.

At this realization of her requirement of me, I quickly grabbed a random beverage and carried her back upstairs. What came next was the proverbial “photo-finish”. No sooner had I gotten her placed where she was before the trip downstairs that the first kitten was crowning.
I will not go into all the details of each, despite my want to do so. There were three in all. The last one was a medium grey in color and had given as guttural and triumphant a yell on his way out that can be made by something so small.

One thing I rather regret doing was calling Mina’s “owner” directly afterwards to inform her that the wait was over. The next day, she came in and took all four of them away. This was the last time I would ever see Mina.

For what felt like years but was only several weeks, I called and requested (nearly demanded) that all three of the kittens should come back to me after weaning. If Mina couldn’t have me, I wanted to at least be the protector of her offspring (silly as that silly sense of nobility might sound). I was lied to when told that that would be fine, all three would have a home with me. This got altered, changed, unrecalled, and finally only partially realized.
In order to placate me (read: shut me the hell up) she shows up on my doorstep with one of the kittens approximately seven weeks after their birth. It just happened to be the grey one that had made a holler on his way out. If I was only to get one of them, I felt good that this was the one for that reason. The name she had given to him was “Shaman”.

Day one with “Shaman” I felt the name needed to change but since he had only known that name up to that point I choose a phonetic compromise and dropped the “m” from it. Almost immediately he started kneading the place where he chose for relaxation, just as Mina had always done. When I opted to give him a scritch he began head-butting my hands, indicating that more scritches were required, again just like Mina. Eventually, he had wrapped the tip of my finger into his tiny paw and would squeeze, thus causing him to purr wildly. It was almost like Mina had a behavioral clone. I did say the mention of Mina’s quirks would pay off.

Sha’an quickly established a bond with me that has been clearly observed by many. Friends have mentioned they can tell how strong it is by the way he “looks” at me. I have since become the caregiver of two other cats:

& Mac
While I love these guyzos immensely, neither of them comes close to sharing a bond with me as Sha’an does. I know it’s wrong to talk of favorites, but let’s be honest here, Sha’an is just that.
About five years ago Sha’an had nearly died due to a urinary tract blockage. He got surgery, medications, and a special food that he would have to be on for the rest of his life. In all the subsequent years blood-work has been done to make sure of no long-term damage from that experience. All tests had shown him to beat the odds beyond any expectations, as if it had never happened. Medications were gradually reduced and ended within two years and he remains on the diet to this day.

In a strange twist of fate, he has found himself with another blockage in his kidney. It is easily operable because of a very early detection. His established survival rate from the previous incident bodes quite well for recovery this time around. Sha’an and I have been together through some of the roughest parts of my adult life and we still have many years ahead.


It is no secret to anyone that I am not in the best financial situation at the best of times. I’ve always managed to get by, even if with a little help from dear friends. Right now, though I will have to spend a significant portion of my rent/bill money to save Sha’an’s little life. I am hoping for some saving grace from anyone and everyone willing to lend to that in some small way.

One way would be to visit this site: http://bit.ly/oGGiuE this is an amazing product that has nothing but good things going for it. I will also be listing many items on eBay: http://bit.ly/lSVaWr in hopes of both gaining needed capitol and reducing the amount of collectibles clogging up the house. Finally, if anyone is feeling particularly charitable, they could donate to the cause via PayPal (please send a message to inquire further).

Please help if you can. Thank you.

08 May 2011

Making Sci-Fi Connections

I have been playing a (pencil & paper) RPG semi-regularly with some friends in which the setting combines some concepts from Cowboy Bebop & Firefly/Serenity, among other things (thanks captain_pooky, dianoga7, ElipsicusDrat, & recently GrumpyTea). It was in preparation for this game, and the fact that I love both of those properties (Browncoat!), that I happily re-watched these shows. However, something strange has happened in addition to the furthering of my adoration of the properties.

I have found myself revisiting my DVD library with some intensity. In no small way, the combination of no money and no work of late aided in this endeavor (immensely, truth be told). My mind (working in its usual abstract way) has started to form a very loose conceptual timeline with a multitude of other titles.

I will be the first to admit that some of these have to be altered a bit to fit into a specific timeline, but the concepts and even specific stories oftentimes do seem to fit together rather nicely. Well, that is my opinion, it is for you to decide whether you might agree or not. I do look forward to reading thoughts other than my own, so I do hope people other than myself will be reading this.

*Quick disclaimer: This list is by no means complete, comprehensive, or anything more than the musings of my overactive mind and fanship of many different things. Others are fully encouraged to provide addendums as they see fit in the comments.*

I will start by listing the title and a brief description. Once they are listed, I will try to explain how they might come together (including what needs to be changed to fit). Incidentally, these descriptions were fun to write, hope they are even close to as much fun to read.

01) Robocop (1&2) - Police officer is killed in the line of duty, and thus gets volunteered for an experimental cybernetic-based law enforcement program. Hilarity & violence follow (perhaps not so much on “hilarity” save for the retrospect of the clearly 1980s in which this film was made)
02) Blade Runner (any of the 5 freaking versions out there) - Genetically engineered “replicants” come to meet their maker (literally) in an attempt to find a way to continue to live, and have it be like normal(ish) people. Unfortunately for them, breaking the leash (and not being emotionally up for it) means being hunted by a special sort of police officer.
03) Mad Max (& subsequent films in the series, I suppose) - A vicious biker-gang ravages the countryside as a tribute to a fallen comrade (as vicious biker-gangs are like to do). A tough cop is pushed to go rouge to destroy the lot of them.
04) Cowboy Bebop - A group of generally down-on-their-luck bounty hunters traverse the galaxy looking to make enough scratch to be able to have some beef with their bell-peppers, for a change. This is a rich and diverse series that is difficult to sum up this briefly, so that will have to do.
05) Firefly/Serenity - A group of generally down-on-their-luck “take jobs as they come” sorts travel the new frontiers in search of, among other things, freedom. Yet another rich and diverse series that is difficult to sum up this briefly, so that will have to do. (Fellow Browncoats, please forgive me, please.)
06) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension - Surgeon, Physicist, Rock Star, Strategic Defense Contractor, & Pop-Culture Icon Buckaroo Banzai and his team discover (and are inadvertent catalysts) a war between aliens residing in the eighth dimension. Oh, and it’s got a rocket-car!
07) Predator (1 or 2) - An alien takes a vacation to trophy-hunt some humans in sweltering humidity with some fancy bladed weapons and techno-camouflage. The humans decide they would rather not be killed and do what they can to fight back.
08) Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - An alien race of bugs attack human-kind. Human-kind seems to not like that very much and gets all kinds of military on their asses. (Not to be confused with the book Starship Troopers or the movie franchise of the same name. Yes, this is based on that book and produced by the 1st movies director, but whatever, let it go.)  
09) Alien (& subsequent films) - Aliens(s) killing humans, humans not really liking that so trying some killing back. A woman named Ripley being all manner of bad-assery. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do not have these films in my library. I just knew they ought to be included in this, especially since Predator is on the list, too)
10) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - A couple of galactic hitchhikers travel about with a book that may not always have the right information, but it has enough information to get you by. (Seriously, I am not about to try to summarize this anymore then that, for it would be asinine to attempt to fit it and have any more of it make sense.)
11) Pitch Black/The Chronicles of Riddick - A bad-assed killer that can see in the dark with glowing eyes and becomes something of a hero, despite just wanting to be left alone.
12) Dune (just the 1st one for simplicity sake) - A spoiled son of a duke gets left for dead in the desert where, it turns out, he is a foretold-of prophet, and thus holds the fate of the entire universe in his hands, so to speak. (I hope that description will do.)

*The timeline goes something like this (only without any convenient illustrations or graphs to make it look in any way like a timeline).*

In the tradition of hiding any and all likelihood of aliens existing, the stories depicted in Predator are unheard. They also foreshadow possible things to come in the very distant to come.

In Robocop we see that things are bad, with alternative methods being looked into for ways to protect (or subdue) the public things are not like to improve.

Mad Max will show us that the breakpoint is not far from tipping.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, Dr. Banzai is utilizing new technologies and methodologies that will eventually lead to all sorts of the weird crap you are going to see later, why not(?). *The discoveries relating specifically to the 8th dimension will, in all of what we will call probability, somehow help to uncover the seeds of how we will eventually be able to “terra-form” other planets.*

The way I see it, these first 4 listed are taking place at close to the same general time… say, within a span of 50 or so years.

With the alternatives explored earlier, the idea of “replicants” is realized ala Blade Runner. This will eventually be the base workforce in early “terra-forming” of planets. *The year in which this is supposed to take place is obviously bullocks, so we’ll just shift it to a later date. Before the next title, the replicants basically die out, because they can’t seem to be made properly without the original genius still being around. Big corporate embarrassments means this won’t take long.*

Now that other worlds are being inhabited Cowboy Bebop now comes into play. This seems pretty straight-forward and simple to me. Only people that might not understand are them that haven’t seen this series before.

Forward expansion into the farther reaches of the black, making a new frontier, we find Firefly/Serenity. *The folly of replicants being something of whispered legend, it somehow leads us to the path of the Miranda incident.*

Our first cannot-be-ignored, cannot-be-hidden glimpse of unfamiliar life-forms that want to kill us dead are depicted in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. *In our expanding “galaxy”, earth is obviously not our direct point of conflict origin as it was here*

Fairly obvious to me (hoping others are with me on that ride) that a logical next step puts us right at the front door of Alien. Not much more to say, I think.

Throughout pretty much all of the events up to this point, I am of the opinion that The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy would be in there somewhere. *The specific events depicted with Arthur, Ford, and the rest could have taken place early on with no notice made by any humans. I only bring it up now because this is a good point to consider that not all aliens are intent on killing humans.*

Killer aliens and grand galactic political/religious stuff going on, this seems like a good place for Pitch Black/The Chronicles of Riddick, wouldn’t you agree? *Especially when it is a place-card for what is to come next*

What seems to be a perfect progression from there, we find Arrakis, a.k.a Dune. *The galactic political intrigue, plus the alien worms it’s almost like all the stuff before was building to this, doesn’t it? Maybe not.*

I hope this was at least an entertaining prattling of pop-culture silliness. While I wanted to somehow work Tron & The Matrix into all of this, it just couldn’t seem to be in a way that didn’t feel forced with a shoe-horn. So, I believe that they deserve mention in hopes of someone else thinking a good way to incorporate them.

16 April 2011

Regarding the "Review" & Backlash Thereof of "Game of Thrones"

Many smarter-than-I people have weighed in regarding a  New York Times.com "review" of the new HBO miniseries Game of Thrones. I will admit that I am not familiar with the series, or the books that it is sourced from. However, my distaste for this piece (and that of many of the others commenting) stems from the seemingly circa 1950s view of gender-based preferences and roles.

Compounding this giant leap back in woman’s public equality are three points of curiosity for me, in order of levels of perplexity.

The first is that this article was apparently written by a woman. Seems assuming women are just dainty simpletons that lack the ability to think beyond their “book club” isn’t just an opinion for crusty old men from the 1950s anymore! (I do hope the oozing sarcasm is apparent enough here.)

Second is that this is a “review” associated with the New York Times. It seems that this is a periodical of note and as such seems subject to a higher standard. I’m not a subscriber, so I cannot say firsthand if I feel this reputation is deserved or not. I can only comment that a venerable media outlet that has as many loyal readers worldwide as this one does, might do well to not take this heightened position quite so lightly. Well, that is unless they believe themselves untouchable by so minor a setback in the grand scheme. As I said, I do not know and as such can only speculate.

The third point of curiosity is the “review” portion of the review. As is mentioned by others (see list below) there is not much in the way of mentioning in any discernible detail things such as plot, characters, actors, etc. It seems right to me that if you are going to call something a “review” you might make some effort to give as balanced assessment of the thing in question. Most reviews I have read seem to be aware that not everyone will outright share their opinion about something and allow for the chance for someone to like what they themselves might not. Opinions are what a reviewer is supposed to have (and thus why reviewers are more commonly called “critics”) but these tend to be best stated in a final summery of the review. It seems rather counter-intuitive to blast an opinion about something without giving any tangible information regarding the source of these specific opinions. Even more counter-intuitive is the decision of alienating a considerable portion of your potential readership instead of simply stating in summation that you didn’t like something and why.

·                                The “review” in question:  New York Times.com Review of "Game of Thrones" on HBO
·                                Jill Pantozzi at TheNerdyBird, this being where the rest of this (unedited save for mentioning of quotes in the final entry) list was found.

·                                Is Game of Thrones 'boy fiction?' via NYMAG.com
·                                New York Times Sets Feminist Movement Back With Game Of Thrones Review via Geek Girl on the Street/Bleeding Cool
·                                Why Is the Fact of Women Liking Sci-Fi and Fantasy So Hard To Believe? via Teresa Jusino
·                                Response to the NY Times Game of Thrones Review via Geek Girl with Curves, Amy Ratcliffe
·                                Today in New York Times navel-gazing via Reason.com
·                                'Game of Thrones' Is Not 'Boy Fiction' via ThinkHero.com
·                                NYT says fiction is gendered, Geek Girls unite to tell them, "NO." via Carnival of the Random
·                                Game of Thrones & the New York Times: Game Over. via Pop Culture Academic
·                                To Ginia Bellafante Regarding Your "Review" Of Game Of Thrones. [Rant] via Geek Girl Diva
·                                A Live Woman Who’d Gladly Watch A Game of Thrones (Even Without the Sex Scenes) via GeekMom.com
·                                Really, why would men ever want to watch "Game Of Thrones"? via io9.com
·                                Hey NY Times - Geek Girls Really Do Exist! via Newsarama (with quotes from Jill Pantozzi and Amy Ratcliffe)

Since I’m already writing more then could ever fit in the comment section this was originally intended for, I'm going to approach this from another prospective for a moment, if I may. I found the piece in question to be not only an inappropriate generalization with regards to women (which it most certainly was), but also a fine illustration of a sadly incorrect generalization regarding men as well. Although, lets face it, generalizations such as these will always be pretty much the same as stereotypes so often are, a pinch of outdated truth and several cups of offensiveness.

Sorry, back to the addendum point I was intending to make: Just because I happen to be a man does not automatically mean that I like violence, blood, gore, etc. I also don't care about car engines, sports, porn, or so much of the other crap guys are supposed to like just as default because of gender. Now because I cast aside many of the so-called man stuff, it is generally assumed that I am some scrawny 20 something still living with his parents, and probably gay. These are some of the stereotypes I have been accused of upholding because I don’t give a damn about beer (and the other stuff mentioned above, especially the “etc.” part).

These negative stereotypes (or in the case of being gay the negative connotation of something that is in no other way negative in my opinion), cut just as deep as anything in the “review” cited above.

I happen to be a former bar bouncer (to illustrate that I’m not scrawny), I used to play rugby (just because I don’t care for sports, doesn’t mean I haven’t partaken), I have been out of my parents houses since my late teens (although there was a stint after I got out of the Army that I had to stay with them both separately while I “got back on my feet”), and I’m not gay (although it wouldn’t matter one iota if I was).

I believe, and I always have, that everyone is an individual and therefore everyone should begin on equal footing. Merits and demerits should be based on ones own merits (sorry but I couldn’t resist that wordplay).

Truth is, because I don’t look the part of what we have been told comics readers, sci-fi fans, toy collectors, toy customizers, and so on, I’ve had a difficult time earning my “nerd-cred”. Perhaps not nearly as much as many of the women out there have, but it’s been tough nevertheless.

In summation, my opinion of the “review” that sparked this latest backlash is that it was crap on multiple levels. I believe that all people start out as equals and it should be up to the individual to remain there. Geek girls in particular have my respect as fellow fighters in the trenches and front-lines of the battle for respect.

Real geeks/nerds of the world, please stand up and unite for our equality!

25 February 2011

Funny Story

So, it seems I have had an account here for time unknown. I only learned this today when looking up something completely unproductive (... I mean unrelated). I don't really know yet what I'm going to do with this new-found old account, but I'm sure I will ignore and forget about it... or think of something. We'll see. Since nobody knows (or likely really cares) about it, I consider that free reign to do whatever I can with this complete lack of power and influence. Warned ye be.