Today I sit with a pint of Guinness waiting to head into Chicago, my home away from. This time I head in with goals like so many before. I have podcasts to record and comedy sets to do. New friends to meet and old friends to see. It is my favorite place to be, even when having a panic attack.
So, then why pray tell am I leaving the Second City for the west coast? Well it is simple, I don’t know what is waiting for me there. I need something new in my life a new goal, and since leaving the Army one has not been made clear. Maybe a refresh is in order, somewhere new where the only one I can depend on is me. I tend to work best without a safety net. So onward I will go, a bicycle underneath me. But to do so, I must first see my city again.
Yes, my city. For while I never made a permanent address in Chicago it is the place were I developed and grew the most in my life. When I was 20 it was the symbol of a boyhood dream for me. The gateway to professional wrestling, if you will. At that gate I would meet some of the most important people in my life. Guys and girls who would endure countless hours in a car with me. With me, some skinny loud mouth from a not so great town. These people have not only seen my value as an entertainer for years, but as a friend. They were my support team back home when I was deployed, and the smiling faces greeting me when I came home. Sometimes, a place becomes more than geographic. It becomes your home. You can always come home, but there is only so much time for you to leave it.
So now I have a moment in this empty bar to think about how today will not go as planned. How I won’t get to sit down and talk with everyone I want to, how it is going to be a pain to get to the Pressure Open Mic with my friend Ben Smith, and how I will never get to spend enough time in the city before I leave it. This is a monologue I have every time I wait for this train, and every time I am right. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in life, and that is one of the things that keeps me exploring it. For while there is comfort in those things familiar, the surprises that wait can keep you awake and waiting.
This week marks the first of many departures for me. I am getting ready to leave the Midwest for the west coast, via bicycle. So on Friday I leave Clinton, IL (where I have resided the last 6 months while helping friends with somethings) for my hometown of Rockford, IL where I will clear things up before my journey west.
This is not the first time I will make such a trek mind you. Last year I rode my then Trek bicycle from Chicago to New Orleans Louisiana, with the intent of going to heading west afterward. However that was not to be, as the night of my arrival in New Orleans my bike was stolen. Stranded and a little depressed, I headed home. What followed was a year wrought with depression and trying to rebuild. Part of that rebuilding included making I Want To Like This. All the while I have had the memory of how it felt to be traveling cross country on my bike, and a desire to still make it to the west coast.
So with those ideas in my head, I have been making my plans for this Autumn. Reviewing my last trip and the things I came up against I started researching for this coming one. Which included setting a date, September 5th, and explaining to people that I would attempt another cross country journey by bike again. One of these was harder than the other, as I was confronted by “Why would you want to do that to yourself again. You don’t have to.” Well, I am not doing anything to myself. I am doing this for myself, and yes I do have to do this. This last year has had a lot of set backs and personal growth for myself, but the one thing that always bothers me is that I did not make it to California. That I let the act of my bike and some equipment being stolen turn me around. I quit on myself momentarily, and I will not do so again. I do not know what will happen in California. I may get there and hate it. I may come back home. But, I will make it there.
I will be dedicating a blog post a week to this journey and I invite you all to come along for the ride.
Till next week,
We live in the midst of a nerd renaissance. Film, TV, and online franchises of our favorite beloved characters and brands are mainstream hits treated with respect, and nostalgia reigns supreme. With said nostalgia came a lot of reboots, and people complaining about ruined childhoods. But, this is not a rant about how it is impossible to taint something you loved by making something new. This is about how groups of people can be so obnoxious in their fandom that they make their object of affection un-enjoyable.
I have been in love with many a series of anime of sci-fi in my life time and the one thing I learned early on is no one will enjoy the things you won’t shut up about. So, SHUT UP. I love that you have a fandom and that you can talk to other fans about it and enjoy a community. However, you have to learn when to not over talk about it when you want to get others involved. Many a anime has been put on my “I Will Never Watch” list, merely because I worked 8 conventions in a row were the series fandom were obnoxious shits at my friend’s booth. Yes, I asked about your cosplay because I had not seen the character before. No, that is not an invitation to prattle on about how your new favorite thing is the best thing that has ever been. By the way, it probably is not. Also, when you are combative about your fandom’s superiority I do not only wish to not watch your show/movie, I do not want to speak to you.Your excitement is only infectious when it doesn’t feel like a religious zealot knocking at my door at 9am on a Saturday. Calm down, and learn that you are not the only authority on what is awesome in the world, and it is perfectly cool that you are not. Why does it matter if someone doesn’t share the same opinion as you on a piece of entertainment? Does it somehow effect how much you can enjoy it?
To the fan who knows to leave their commentsat “It is my favorite.” or “You should look it up if ____ is your kind of thing.” this is not about you. You are the crown jewel of fandoms, who understand that they are a unique individual, whose tastes do not always align with others. You keep being the friendly fan who holds the door open for would be ones if they ask to come in, and the person who nods with acceptance to those who walk on by.
I love being a nerd, but labeling myself does not mean I have to watch or like everything in the Nerd spectrum. I don’t have the time in my life to ingest that much content, let alone be blank enough of a slate to like everything that has been fed to me. I like what I like,
dislike what I dislike, and venture into new things when something catches my eye. If you would like your thing to be one of those, don’t be a tactless dolt about how you present it.
I have never been at a loss for words about my feelings with the depictions of Superman in the Zack Snyder directed films. However, in an attempt to put the ideas in a form I can just direct people to so as I can focus on other matters, I will leave it here. So if you like the tone of Mr. Snyder’s work, and do not want to take any other opinions into consideration here is your exit… Still here? Awesome.
First, let me explain my relationship with the character that is Clark Kent; from here on out I will be referring to him primarily as Clark, because that is the character you have to understand to build a story about him. Clark is not my favorite comic book character, he isn’t even my favorite DC specific character. (Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Dick Grayson are). He wasn’t even the character I remember watching first. I was born in 1985, the first movie I ever saw in theaters was “Batman (1989)”. But at 5 I fell in love with comics, and media related to their characters, and one thing stood out in my mostly DC loving experience. The character that not only saved more people, but inspired the people of the world and the other heroes was Superman. To me, Superman became not just the guy with near limitless power, he became a symbol for good. A being who despite that power, that many says makes him boring, he would not let himself be corrupted. For me, he became a standard to aspire to as a person, and with each good writer to take the reins I learned about the imperfect man (Clark) representing an ideal(Superman) for the world. And that ideal is what has inspired me to work to be better. That is what Clark means to me.
The above is why I am so disheartened by the films of the current DC cinematic universe. Because while I am happy to hear other takes on the world that reflect the more cynical age and how Clark would interact with them. I am not okay with grittiness being portrayed as reality, and Clark and Jonathan Kent being products of it. Now I know some may jump on me and say “well you aren’t really ready for a different take on Superman are you?”, but listen to me. The world we live in, despite what the media would like you to believe, is not a the distopian future predicted in 1984. Now, while we are far from a utopia; I have seen war and human beings risk life and limb to volunteer to help others. The world does not even visually look like Snyder’s bleak one with its blue hues. So the argument could be “this is fiction it doesn’t have to represent the real world. Hell, a man flies.” Yes, I know it is not the real world, but when confronted with the world being to “Gritty” the argument is often that the filmmakers went for “realism”. For you making an argument for Snyder’s universe all I ask is pick a side on that one. Snyder is either trying to make a “realistic” depiction of the world we live in, or a stylized fictional one. Neither one really matters in my argument against them, except that one reinforces the idea that the world we live in is the worst it has ever been.
The real problem with Snyder and writer David S.Goyer’s depiction is they seemed to forget what makes Clark “Super”. They make remarks about it, but they never really show it. Clark isn’t Superman because of his powers, or his costume. Plenty of characters in the DCU have costumes and powers, the ones with comparable powers are often villains. What makes Clark Superman, is that he is Clark. When Batman goes home, takes the cowl off, and talks to himself he uses the name Batman; because since age ten there has only been Batman. Even before he invented the identity, “Bruce Wayne” died with Thomas and Martha. Clark on the other hand comes home, takes off the tights, and calls himself Clark. He is the guy who wears the tights not to scare people or punch monsters, but to inspire people like his dad inspired him. Clark is trying to be the man Jonathan was for him at age 10 to the entire world. If you think that makes him boring, or impossible to tell a story with, you A) lack imagination and B) Have never seen “Captain America: Winter Soldier”. It is easy to tell the story of a powerful boy scout trying to inspire the world to what some would call an out dated sense of good, vs the complexity of the modern gray morality of the times. However to do this, you must show Jonathan Kent as the hardworking bastion of hope he has always been depicted as in the media before hand. Not as some paranoid father who would teach his son to let others die to protect himself. That kid does not become Superman, because he does not learn to have faith in humanity, or even value human life. For Clark to be Superman he needs to have HOPE. And really, in a world full of dark heroes, corrupt politicians, and paranoia of our fellow humans; don’t we as a species deserve to have some too, if even in the form of an unflappable comic book hero? Marvel thought so, but they and Disney have always known the value of Hope. I wish DC and WB would remember it. They knew it in 1978.
Clark Kent is more than a boy scout in tights, while Batman puts fear into the hearts of villains, Superman is there to inspire hope in the hearts of everyone. That’s why I love Clark, why Snyder’s universe is not enjoyable for me, and why I think that having different tones for different characters is necessary. Because scaring bad guys is cool, but inspiring hope for a better tomorrow is even cooler.