Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Way Too White: X-Men

March 4, 2008

The one thing I’ve always loved about the X-Men is their message of diversity and unity. If you look past the alien invasions, alternate dimensions and well… crap, the X-Men are at their strongest when they are a story about prejudice. That’s why Magneto is such a compelling villain. He isn’t merely evil for the sake of it: He witnessed the horrors of predjudice firsthand during the Holocaust, and will stop at nothing to prevent that from happening again.

Sadly the X-Men sometimes lose track of that in the comics; and more often than not the current X-team (save for the occasional furry blue mutant) is extremely white. But there are plenty of characters in the X-verse who do not fit this mold, it’s just rare that they receive any focus or special attention.

This is also the case in the VS. System. Despite the fact that the X-Men have been featured over three times now, there are some major minority X-characters who have yet to make an appearance in the card game. Here are two of my favorites, complete with fantasy cards I made myself:

northstar.jpg

 

Northstar

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier [Ed: Thanks gdaybloke!] ) is a Canadian mutant gifted with incredible super-speed. He’s so fast, in fact, that he can travel at speeds up to 99.9% the speed of light — Quicksilver can’t do that! Originally a member of Alpha Flight, Northstar was a fixture of the team in the late 80’s/early 90’s. In 1992 a public controversy was generated when writer John Byrne revealed that everyone’s second favorite Canadian mutant was also a homosexual.

Following the initial controversy surrounding his coming out, Northstar was doomed to obscurity by an editorial mandate. After Alpha Flight was cancelled in 1994 the character remained in limbo for a number of years, appearing in the X-Men titles periodically until he became a regular cast member in the 2000’s.

Sadly the character was killed by a mind-controlled Wolverine during the “Enemy of the State” storyline, then resurrected by The Hand and turned evil, and then taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. As far as I know he’s still locked up, which is a shame because he’s still one of the few gay male superhero characters. The fact that there are eight different incarnations of Rogue and none of Northstar just buggles my mind. Really

With Alpha.Flight rumored to be a team in the upcoming Marvel Universe I’m expecting Jean-Paul to show up. I only hope he is dual-affiliated with the X-Men, because really, nobody wants to play as Alpha Flight.

dust.jpg

 

Dust

Dust (Sooraya Qadir) is a mutant from Afghanistan gifted with the incredible power to transform her body into a cloud of sand and maintain control of herself while in that form. This makes her a living sandstorm, capable of stripping away human flesh of gaining access to nearly impenetrable places with ease.

She was first introduced as a background character in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, but in time grew to become a fixture among the young students at the Xavier Institute. She’s also going to be a member of the upcoming Young X-Men series, alongside the handful of other students who maintained their powers after the Decimation.

Dust is awesome not just because of her powers but because she’s the only positive Muslim superhero out there. Especially given the current state of the world, I can’t imagine an X-Person more important or relevant than Dust.

But she doesn’t have a card. And Wolverine has 13. Sigh.

Old Soul Song

February 14, 2007

Audio: Share a song that reminds you of a current or past relationship.

I despise the fact that so much of my musical taste can be attributed to one person. What makes it worse is that person was a psuedo-almost-maybe-kinda ex. While the label was lacking, my feelings for him couldn’t be so easily denied. Before we met I honestly knew nothing about music, and I would have been hard pressed to pick a favorite artist or album.

After seeing a movie on our first date we visited the Virgin Megastore in what would be the first of countless shopping trips together. I would follow him closely behind in awe of the way he methodically walked up and down every single aisle of the store, listening to samples and browsing for something that might catch his eye. His appeal to me wasn’t that he was a moderately attractive musician, but that he was a nerd. If my comic shop were ten times as large and ten times as loud, this is exactly what I would like every Wednesday when I went there to pick up new books. From that moment I knew we had much in common; probably much more than I will ever be able to deal wiith.

From our conversations during these trips I learned strange bits of trivia and history, slowly starting to develop my taste note by note. One memorable week Bright Eyes, who I had never heard of, released two concept albums on the same day (I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.) While this meant nothing to me, to him this was no less than the second coming of Christ. After purchasing the discs we immediately rushed to his car for what I thought would be a romantic encounter. Unfortunately, I was soon disappointed to discover that all he wanted to do in the back seat was listen to music.

So we did just that. We listened, and we listened, and over the course of that night I learned a lot about him, Bright Eyes and myself. To this day I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning remains one of my favorite albums, second only to The Magnetic Fields’ I, which he also introduced me to.

Much like my hatred of Build-A-Bears this music is a legacy I’ll probably carry with me forever. I’m quite happy with my current beau, but not a day goes by where I don’t hear a song, or think of a lyric that takes me back in time.

Boring and Loving It

February 13, 2007

Aaron travels a lot for his job. While I could explain to you what he actually does to earn a living, for the purpose of this story it’s easier for me just to say that he talks on the phone a lot and yells at people who work under him. Most weeks that means a two hour commute to and from his corporate headquarters in Burbank, but lately it involves visiting bizarre and seemingly random places. One week it was Chicago, another Reno, and this week he’s in Toledo, Ohio. Due to his incredibly busy schedule these trips are very draining, and most nights he can’t get much more than a few hours sleep. Despite the fact that my schedule is far from busy and far from stressful, I find that I’m getting even less sleep than he is.

I’m trying very hard to stay productive, whether it be cleaning the apartment, visiting friends, or teaching myself to cook (it’s not working,) Unfortunately I find it nearly impossible to do these things during daylight hours. Every night at the stroke of twelve I magically transform from a sloth into Alice from ‘The Brady Bunch.’ Doing laundry, reading about recipes online: anything worth doing gets done when everyone else I know is sleeping.

Hamburger helper

I find this terribly relaxing, and even fun. Without Aaron around to distract me I can really get to work, living my late-night dreams of scrubbing bathroom tile and baking blueberry muffins. Even when I was a single man-whore I never stayed up so late; at least then I had a job to wake up to in the morning. Quitting Macaroni Grill a month ago was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done — so much so that I can’t find a good reason to go back to work.

Oddly enough, when my internship ended I was having the exact opposite reaction. Without steady income I was moody, erratic and all of the terrible things that I normally am (only moreso!) A job, even a lame one like serving pasta to the masses, coulld not have come too soon. Ironically it was Aaron who was unhappy about me finding work, fearing that it would cut into our weekend getaways and spontaneous trips. He was right, and our little adventures are now few and far between. Now I’m getting weekends off for the first time in a year, and all he has the energy to do is watch me cook him tacos for dinner.

In all liklihood boredom is going to be what pushes me over the edge and back into the job market, it’s only a matter of time. Sure my savings will dry up eventually, but I find that I’m saving all kinds of money by cooking for myself. Hamburger Helper is the new love of my life. In fact, I think I have prepared it for dinner at least four times in the past week. Who can possibly resist such a delicious product, especially when it has a friendly, anthropomorphic kitchen glove on the box?

Eating a pound of ground beef by myself is getting tiresom, and if I have to live like this much longer I don’t know what I will do. Until I figure that out the next step in my life, though, chances are the highlight of my day is still going to be my midnight supply runs to Wal-Mart.

Liberal Bias and Sesame Street

October 12, 2006

It’s not uncommon for me to spend a morning watching children’s programming. In fact, given how early I’ve been waking up lately, it’s become the norm.

The past few weeks Aaron has been waking up earlier and earlier, which means (of course) that he falls asleep earlier and earlier. This creates a dilemma for a night owl such as myself, since on an average night I pass out anywhere between midnight and three in the morning. In an effort to save my marriage I am trying not only to change a sleep schedule I’ve had established for years, but also my TV viewing habits as well.

Barring notable exceptions such as 9/11 or a Rocky and Bullwinkle marathon, there have been few occasions worth getting out of bed and watching television for. Morning news is usually generic fluff pieces poorly disguised as information, and everything else on the dial is a joke.

Campaign 96

I have fallen out of love with the various syndicated shows that litter morning TV schedules. If you see one episode of ‘People’s Court’ you’ve seen them all, and I can’t bring myself to watch trash like ‘Cheaters’ or ‘Eye for an Eye.’

With nowhere else to turn, I reluctantly turned towards children’s programming to keep me engaged during the early morning hours. It had been quite a while since I’ve watched Nick Jr., and for good reason. Aside from the obvious age difference, I feel like their programming panders to the audience, rather than make any attempt to educate. Mind you this isn’t any different than adult programming, but there should be some responsibility to teach America’s children more than the Spanish word for ‘backpack.’

Fortunately, there was one venue I know I could rely on. Sesame Street basically rebuilt children’s programming from the ground up decades ago, so if anyone would stand a pillar of quality education it would be them.

What I actually saw bothered me quite a bit.

For those unfamiliar with the delicate format of a Sesame Street episode, each features a specific theme, be it ‘dogs’ or ‘school’ or ‘cookies.’ This theme is explored throughout the hour-long program, educating the viewer about the topic through various sketches, cartoons and songs. Today, I learned, the theme was ‘Agendas of the Left Wing.’

The first segment I watched seemed harmless enough. Elmo was walking around Central Park and talking to people about families. A video montage followed, showing various types of family, and establishing early on in the viewer’s developmental cycle that unconventional family models were just as ‘normal’ ones. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, cousins: virtually every type of family model was shown, including those featuring two moms and two dads.

‘Eh?’ I thought to myself, ‘Did Sesame Street just feature multiple sets of gay families in a video montage?’ I thought I must have been mistaken.

As a homosexual I have no problem with this, but as a amateur media watchdog, I do take concern with the statement this makes. Considering that Sesame Street receives a substantial amount of its’ operating budget from federal funding, does doing such a thing create some kind of paradox?

Being a member of the highly sought after 18-34 white male demographic, I suspect that my personal boycott of Sesame Street may force the show into cancellation, but they deserve it. Snuffaluffagus, you’ve violated my trust for the last time!

At least when I watch The View I know what to expect from Rosie O’ Donnell.

*Despite his weak interviews, I’d still rather have Elmo host the evening news than Katie Couric.

Vegas, Vegas, Vegas

October 2, 2006

Although Aaron’s birthday actually fell on the calendar over a month ago, this past weekend we finally had the chance to celebrate it. Last year I took him to Disneyland (which was fun for him and cheap for me,) and this time I surprised him with a weekend trip to Las Vegas (which was much more fun for him, and much more expensive for me.) He was given the opportunity to drive us 300 miles to receive his gift, while I navigated and provided color commentary on the various billboards we passed by. Like any good co-pilot should, I stayed concious for most of the drive.

Bellagio

We stayed at the Bellagio, which, if you were not aware, is probably the most luxurious hotel on the strip. I’d be perfectly happy staying at the casino with clowns on the walls, but apparently some people like having a nice view and comfortable mattress. Go figure. He treats me well, and as such, he gets what he wants sometimes. Let it never be said that I’m not the generous type.

The first photo gives you a vague idea of where our room was, the second is the actual view from our hotel room, as taken from Aaron’s amazing camera phone. Our hotel was truly a work of art, and I probably could have spent all day admiring the architecture and beauty of it. In addition to their wide selection of slot machines, the hotel offered a fine art gallery, an indoor garden, and every amenity one could possibly want.

The picture below shows an enormous duck topiary, representative of the type of luxury that only a 400 dollar hotel room would provide. Aaron has given me no reason to believe he dislikes ducks, so I consider the hotel choice to be a great success.

Bellagio3

Oddly enough, we didn’t gamble very much, and never saw any shows throughout the entire trip. Most of our time was occupied by eating or shopping, the latter of which is a great pastime of the birthday boy. This wasn’t our first time in Sin City, and we had more fun not feeling any pressure to go and do something. I think next time we’ll just sit in the car for the entire weekend and have an even better time! At least it would be cheaper, since Aaron spent a great deal of money on some “much needed” additions to his wardrobe.

In fact, the only thing we did was upon my request, and on our final day we visited the world famous Liberace Museum! On my first trip to Vegas I kept running into advertisements for it, but being the ignorant individual I was, I had no idea who or what a Liberace was. After looking over some information about the man and his legacy I decided that it would be both an affordable and worthy addition to the vague itinerary we had planned.

Liberace

For those of you unfamiliar, he was a wildly flamboyant pianist and stage performer from the 1950’s up until his death in the early 1980’s. He started the museum in the late 1970’s to showcase his rhinestone-covered wardrobe, and elegant lifestyle. It is due to his enormous popularity the museum remains decades after he has passed away. The museum basically rests in a strip mall, only this one is bright pink and themed to Liberace. Next door is a wedding chapel, an Asian church, a hookah bar, and a gay night club (which is ironic because during his life Liberace strongly denied that he was homosexual, and would go so far as to sue anyone who claimed otherwise.)

Although it doesn’t seem like the kind of attraction that would bring in the tourists, we were far from the only people at the museum, or the youngest. I befriended a 20-something docent who gave me an informative pamphlet about Liberace’s shoes, and she took her job very seriously.

She had been working there since December, and was one of the few paid employees there. The woman assured me that even though I knew very little about Liberace, I could learn a lot about culture, style and art from the collection the museum had on display. It was at this point Aaron’s eyes glazed over and died from boredom (although that might have been after we saw the world’s biggest rhinestone they had on display. I’m not sure.)

Liberace2

Many of the other docents were elderly volunteers; and since they were actually old enough to have seen the subject matter perform live, seemed like a much better authority on the subject than the woman I was talking to. It is one of my goals to become a docent at various museums during my retirement, and if it is still open in 2051 (or so) I’ve found someplace else to add to my list.

We left with a newfound appreciation of niche tourist traps, and began the long drive home. All in all we had an excellent time, and I’ll be hard-pressed to come up with something as fun to do for his next birthday, or worse yet, Christmas. Hopefully he’ll actually get his Christmas present in December this time.