Brothers (and sisters) Under the Bridge

My wife had asked me to write a post based on the Twitter meme #lameclaimtofame, which mostly seems to consist of awkward brushes or fleeting encounters with celebrities. Her request was couched in that she feels like I have a large # of encounters and brushes that aren’t at all lame.

This is not that post.

I’ve been coming across a lot of vitriol in the aftermath of San Diego Comic Con 2009- actually I came across it before hand too- regarding the Twilight franchise and the effect it has had on the convention.

SDCC (also known as “A Gathering of Smelly Sub cultural Archetypes in a Whales Vagina”) is a place where fans convene. Fans, short for fanatics, are exactly what their full name entails. Some of them can interact with society, some can’t.

Some can quote you text and verse of the Mon Calamari Marriage Rituals before the Deep Gods. It does not, apparently, involve marinara sauce. Some have the full specs for a Federation Starship of some Class or another.

Others will explain to you exactly how Spike & Buffy were meant to be 4Evah, and will have very close friends who disagree with them somewhat violently on the same subject, preferring Angel and his looming forehead vs. the skeleton-sharp cheekbones of the peroxided vampire.

Still others can tell you what each individual Sharingan Eye means from the Naruto manga or anime.

And some will tell you how they are Team Edward or Team Jacob, and how wrong the other team’s point of view is.

They are all fans. And while they may seem different than some, I am always reminded of the great Onion Article that posits the disdainful comic book geek/table-top gamer vs. the hardcore sports fan. Fans are in every walk of life. I used to work with a guy who religiously read (to disagree with, he assured me) Pitchfork and various other music publications. He could talk about every cutting edge band that existed within his carefully cultivated musical boundaries.

At SDCC though, they are all genre fans- all fans, some of specific franchises.

And there has been a LOT of backlash against the Twi-hards, the fans of Stephanie Meyers (oh, fuck the spelling) best-selling young(ish) adult novels, and the film adaptations. Soon, apparently, there will be a manga adaptation as well.

I have not been entirely kind to the Twilight saga myself. Having only read excerpts and annotations, I am still rather horrified by the mind-bogglingly stunted view of gender roles and equality on view in the Twi-world. That said: OK. The fans, as it were, have spoken.

I am bothered by the slavish love the stories get- the possible message planted that a proper girl is nothing without her commandeering/stalker Man. Don’t get me started on the “Imprinting”, the “EEEEK!!! A PENIS!!!!” views of sex, or the general psychological age that Meyers projects through her work. There is also the Mormon ideology issue, but more on that later.

What I can’t do, is I really can’t take that out on the fans. I am sure that if I looked through my collection of DVDs and comic books, there would be more than a few items that would fall outside the comfort zone of someone who believes in gender equality.

Fans are Fans. Live and let live. Do Twi-hards try and stop my enjoyment of BtVS? Of Star Wars? Or Australian Sci-fi from the late 70s and early 80s?

No, I say shamefacedly. So why have I fallen into that fanboy trap of making fun of them?

“But the stories are just Mormon propaganda!”

And thousands of fanboys (and girls), if not millions, love Orson Scott Card’s books. Not exactly banned in LDS libraries, his stuff. And C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, which I have a special place in my heart for, take the concept of Allegory and beat it to death with a lamppost. And Tolkien’s saga could be construed as anti-industrial and anti-war (according to some) and, hell, there are entire RELIGIONS that are misogynistic. CULTURES. Of course some fiction falls into those lines.

The question is whether you yourself will read, watch, consume. You can’t, you shouldn’t, stop someone else from doing the same. Let them discover their own opinion, don’t force yours on them.

I probably won’t read Meyers’ work. I might, might be talked into watching one or more of the films with enough liquid encouragement. I’d actually rather sit through Twilight than either of Bay’s noxious Transformers movies. I fucking despise Michael Bay. But I know people who will pay money to see his films. I’m still friends with them. They don’t get banned from my cocktail parties.

But there were apparently people wandering San Diego (“San Deeyago, in German it means, a Whale’s Vagina” never fails to make me giggle like a tree full of monkeys all hopped up on nitrous oxide) Comic Con carrying signs saying things like “Twilight Ruined Comic-Con” or “Scream if you Think Twilight Ruined It”.

WTF, fanboys? Is this like the Punk Rock thing? A band is only cool until it goes mainstream or (gasp, godforbid) is accepted outside of a relatively small and incestuous fanbase? SC used to be visibly dejected if someone had already seen, let alone owned, some of the weird-ass Asian films he collected. But maybe these “It’s MINE! my precious” Fanboys are the minority. My buddy Drew is more than happy, elated even, to try and turn me onto some anime and manga. I’m always excited to find someone who hasn’t seen a great overlooked flick- and wants to borrow my copy.

Seriously, you have seen The Blood Of Heroes, right?

Were I at SDCC09, I like to think I would have embraced both the traditional Con’ers, as well as the Twi-Hards. I also like to think I’d have been a steampunk cowboy, or possibly a post-apocalyptic Ogami Itto with Sam as my Daigoro.

I feel bad for making fun of the Twi-Hards that I don’ know- that would be like my making fun of the Trekkies that I don’t know.

What I have learned today is that I will make fun of Courtney, because I can respect that she loves her stories about sparkling things. And I will tease Drew, despite the fact that he has sixty pounds and a good twelve inches on me- because he is a Narutard. And I’ll chastise Shelby for giving money to Transformers. Novysan and I can make CoTC jokes with each other. And Betheboy can continue to make fun of me, because I can tell you how Weequay communicate, or which skiff guard was Klatooinian and which was a Nikto. Miss Twist and I pick on each other over pretty much everything.

But there is no actual anger, no rancor (heeee) there. Except maybe from Betheboy, but he is an angry, angry man.

But see, I know all of those people, and they know me- at least enough for there to be a degree of humor in communicating that way. And we CAN communicate that way, because we have other shared interests.

What I see happened at SDCC is pretty gross. It is basically a subculture saying: “Nu-uh! Don’t group us in with THEM!” without learning anything about “Them”. There is a lot of disdain and hate based on presumption. It seems like it is a weird need to be ideologically separate, to be alone in one’s alienation. The self-proclaimed Goth vs. the Hot Topic Tween, the Old Skool punker who swears no recording without Glenn Danzig on it counts as The Misfits.

I read another mention of the SDCC where, apparently, there was a HUGE turnout for the Steampunk conference- great- and one of the people at the table admonished the assembled “don’t be a goggles Nazi!” That took me a while- Nazi goggles?. Then I realized: there are probably Old Guard steampunkers who are sneering at the new kids who buy their goggles pre-made, or just painted to look old rather than being painstakingly handcrafted in the most O.G. DIY way possible… I wonder if the 501st Legion squabbled over the first Prequel Trilogy characters that tried to join, and if there is still a core group of traditional Original Saga Stormtroopers who grumble about it.

And that is just fucking sad. Didn’t we learn anything from The Breakfast Club, people?

We’re all just freaks in the realm of the freaks. Embrace your brothers and sisters- once you get to know them, THEN you can judge them. For who they are, not for what they like.

Rats in the Hallway

Let this be a warning: blog entries CAN be boring, depressing, and not advance the story at all.(*)

I am a bad blogger. I’ve always known, deep down inside, that I wasn’t meant to be a blogger. Not me. Quick links or “man I had a weird dream last night” spurts on Livejournal were always my style- but when the ball would get rolling and I’d write something interesting or funny or well-written (the last the least likely) someone would usually say: “Livejournal sucks, you should write a blog”.

Mostly my wife.

I admit I’ve never understood the LJ/blog feud. People have tried to communicate it to me, but the truth is I don’t care. And I know that I could write a blog entry not unlike my old livejournal entries- but somehow the blog feels like it deserves more formality.

Lately I haven’t had any energy to devout to formality. I am tired, dear readers. All the damn time. And what little time I have had for writing has- I am happy to say- been spent writing books. And a screenplay. And some treatments. But, you know, mostly books. And a very slow going query letter for a book, and an even slower going synopsis for said book.

I don’t feel like I have a lot left to give, so the internet becomes the ignored child. Life keeps me busy, my writing keeps me (in)sane, and my job kind of almost pays the bills. My son makes me happy. My wife makes me happy too, but I know her well enough to know that she won’t begrudge me the almost miraculous level of joy that Sam can bring me. Seriously, hanging out with him is the best time ever.

I used to be able to blog from work, but I just don’t have the time anymore because it is the only time I have to write. Of course, I do have actual work that needs to be worked on while working. So I resent my job because it interferes with my writing- and it is also, frankly, a numbing, achingly dull job. So I resent it for not challenging me at all, while I resent it for making it harder for me to get any writing done.

When I’m home, my time is divided between playing with Sam (so bettie can get a break or, bless her, get some of her own writing done) or chores, and even some relaxing but I can almost never get any writing done at home. I have to get up insanely early to get any writing done- I don’t mind getting up early. In fact I like the rush of creative energy to deal with first thing in the morning. But it isn’t easy to get up easy consitently without the use of an alarm clock- using one would almost definitely wake Sam up too, and I cannot write when Sam is up. For one thing, he thinks my computer is his T.V.- we used to let him watch Bettie Boop and Flip the Frog cartoons on it in the morning while he ate breakfast, before we realized that he thinks that means anytime the computer is on, it is his.

It is hard for me to argue or convince someone who doesn’t speak a language I know that what Daddy is doing is important. So the computer stays off while Sam is awake. Once he goes to bed, between eight and nine at night, I’m only good for doing the dishes before rapidly following his lead and crawling into bed.

So I’m kind of resentful, because I feel like there is no time that is my own. Oh! But it gets funny, because in a couple of weeks Bettie & Sam will be housesitting for our dear friend Cassy down south- which means that for at least a week I’ll have my mornings and evenings to myself since I’ll be staying home to commute to work…

And while a small part of me rejoices at the thought of having uninterrupted time, the larger part says: “Jesus, what the hell am I gonna DO with myself without Sam around?”

To say that Bettie and my current writing schedules conflicts with our having much time together would be an understatement- or at least it feels that way.

Man. Next wife(**)? Not another writer. I think one writer is almost more than any marriage can take. Because it means we’re both so damn needy, and paranoid that we’re ignoring Sam to focus on our make-believe worlds, while ignoring our spouse because we’re obsessing over our own story.

*(because Nova doesn’t believe me)

**(no, we are not getting divorced or even squabbling more than is healthy for us. Keep your resumes to yourselves, ladies)