Tag Archives: love

Why It’s Awesome To Be A Nerd

1 Aug

letter At a recent convention, child actor and well-credentialed nerd ambassador Will Wheaton sat on a panel attended by conventioneers. During the question-and-answer period one convention-goer (with a video camera) told Mr. Wheaton about her recently born daughter and asked him to describe for her daughter what was awesome about being a nerd.

The answer Mr. Wheaton gave was profound. In my opinion it was dead-on and touched the very zeitgeist of the feeling I try to get across in this blog. No matter what it is you love: Dr. Who, classical composers, Star Wars, architecture, animation, parenting… it’s all about loving those things as much as you can, and finding other people who love those same things as much as you do.

The convention-goer put the video up on YouTube and it is currently making the viral-rounds in nerd-circles (which I thoroughly travel). Of course you can just watch the video below if you like. But I think some things are so profound, so important, they are worth writing down.

Here are Will Wheaton’s words on why it’s awesome to be a nerd:

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“So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love… The way you love that thing and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome.”

-Will Wheaton

Hi, Violet. My name is Will Wheaton. It’s 2013 and you’ve just recently joined us on planet Earth, so welcome.

I’m an actor and I’m a writer and I’m a dad and your mother asked me to tell you why it’s awesome to be a nerd and that’s an easy thing for me to do because that’s who I am. I don’t know what the world’s going to be like by the time you understand this. I don’t know what it’s going to mean to be a nerd when you are a young woman. For me, when I was growing up being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird, that took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It meant that I loved science and I loved playing board games and reading books and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just riding the planet through space.

When I was a little boy people really teased us about that and made us feel like there was something wrong with us for loving those things.  Now that I’m an adult I’m kind of a professional nerd and the world has changed a lot and I think a lot of us have realized that being a nerd, or being a “geek” is another word you’ll hear and I sort of use the terms interchangeably, it’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.

So there’s going to be a thing in your life that you love and I don’t know what it’s going to be. It might be sports. It might be science. It might be reading. It might be fashion design, it might be building things. It might be telling stories or taking pictures. It doesn’t matter what it is. The way you love that and the way that you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome.

The defining characteristic of us, the people in this room – and I’m going to ask your mom to turn this camera around in a minute. Go there, go mom. **camera pans around to show a convention hall chalk-full of enthusiastic nerds** The defining characteristic that ties us all together is that we love things. Some of us love Firefly, and some of us love Game of Thrones, and some of us love – these are things you’ll be able to go see. They’re in your nerd history book. Some of us love Star Trek or Star Wars or anime or games or fantasy or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things, but we all love those things so much that we travel thousands of miles – which is probably easy for you but we’re still on fossil fuels. I don’t know what you’re going to be on, but it’s difficult. We come from all over, in some cases all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things that we love the way that we love them. And that’s why being a nerd is awesome.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you that that thing that you love is a thing that you can’t love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t love that, that’s for boys. You have to love this because you’re a girl. You find the things that you love and you love them the most that you can. And listen, this is really important, I want you to be honest, honorable, kind. I want you to work hard because everything worth doing is hard. And I want you to be awesome. And I’m going to do my very best to leave you a planet that you can still live on. Have a great life.

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Below is the YouTube video if you’d like to watch it for yourself. The lesson here is that whatever kind of nerd you are, celebrate it. It’s all about love. In the comments below share with us what kind of nerd you are.

-Dork Dad

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Why Superman Is A Better Dad Than Batman

10 Jun

letter The boys over at HowToBeADad posted their thesis “5 Reasons Why Batman Would Be A Better Dad Than Superman” with full knowledge of the reaction it would bring. They knew a few of us couldn’t let it slide. They knew we’d be forced to blog our counterarguments, thus driving more attention and traffic to their site. Moreover, they knew we knew they knew, and they knew we were powerless to resist. They are diabolical that way over there… one might say “evil geniuses.”

Ron Mattocks and Alan Kercinik have made their counterarguments, and mine, the third and final installment in the series, follows below:

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WHY SUPERMAN WOULD BE A BETTER DAD THAN BATMAN

1)      Batman is nocturnal.

HowToBeADad presented this as evidence in Batman’s favor, but given a little thought it becomes pretty clear that on balance, this can’t be a good thing. Where’s Bruce Wayne for that class field trip? He’s in the batcave getting his lacerations stitched up and dislocated shoulder reset by Alfred. You want your dad to be there for your first T-ball game? Sorry kid. He’s sleeping right now because he’s been up for the past 72 hours chasing supercriminals.

Then picture this scenario from the Wayne household: You’re a 5 year old kid. It’s the middle of the night and there’s a violent storm outside. The power is out and everything is pitch black around you. You’re scared and you can’t sleep. Your sense of fear slowly turns to panic as the sound of the wind and the driving rain intensify outside your bedroom window. You stare into the inky darkness, unable to see anything, wondering who might be stalking you from impenetrable night all around. Suddenly a bolt of lightning, and in an instant, only inches away, the face of a man is harshly illuminated, looming morosely over you in your bed. How did he get there? How long was he hovering, silently over your sleepless body? Blinded by the sudden flash you reach out into the darkness, feeling … nothing. Another flash of lightning, and this time the figure is gone entirely — disappeared as silently as he came. When the flash dims you are left alone in the dark again, wondering what else happens in your room in the black of night when you are asleep. You stare into the void utterly alone as the sound of thunder finally reaches your ears.

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Nocturnal dad. Yeah… not so great.

2)      Origins.

The father figure plays chiefly in the forging of the Man of Steel, so much so that Superman actually has TWO fathers to draw experience and guidance from. Batman has only himself. It isn’t much of a stretch to draw conclusions from there. When asked the question “Who would make a better dad, Superman or Batman?” far too many people confuse the word “better” with “cooler”. I’ll grant you, especially in today’s angsty, murky shades of gray times, Batman would be the cooler parent. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say he’s a more interesting character. But where Superman’s origin is a story of love and sacrifice – two crucial themes central to the experience of any parent – Batman’s story is one of tragedy, trauma and vengeance. In that light I ask you, which hero would you want your child raised by?

For crying out loud, Superman’s kids would have freakin’ grandparents.

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3)      Track record.

No need to dive too far into obscure canonical details about the backstories of each character. Certainly HowToBeADad didn’t feel compelled to adhere to any standards there. But you can’t discuss parenting competence of Supes vs. Bats without bringing up precedent.  In the parenting department no doubt Bruce Wayne has vastly more parenting experience than Clark Kent. In fact, Clark Kent has had precisely zero children during his tenure as a superhero. So we can’t really draw on his past as in indicator for his skills as a parent. Not so with Batman.

In his 70+ years Bruce Wayne has been responsible four different wards, each of whom took on the mantle of Robin during his time spent at Wayne Mannor. Of those four…

…two have died.

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Any chance you’re going to name Bruce Wayne in your living trust as guardian of your children, given the fact that those in his care have precisely a 50% chance of making it to adulthood?

I don’t think so.

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Personal Testimony:

Beyond all of that, as my final testimony I’d like to present a personal story:

This weekend UnDorkMommy took my daughter to a mother/daughter thing until very late, leaving the boys at home to fend for ourselves. After resisting naps all day, Episode VI went down early without a struggle, and Episode V and I found ourselves in the rare situation where we had the house (and the DVD player) all to ourselves. A little dude-time was in order.

Cognizant of the fact that I likely won’t be able to take a 4.5 year old to see the PG-13 “Man Of Steel” this weekend, I opted instead to show him the 2006, Bryan Singer movie “Superman Returns,” which ultimately comes across more of a sequel to the Superman movies my son has already seen. Granted, not a masterwork, but a crucial part of my son’s education nonetheless.

We snuggled under a big poofy blanket and munched on popcorn and salami slices (his request). Towards the end of the movie there’s a scene where Superman is watching his son sleeping peacefully in bed, coming to terms for the first time that he himself is a father. He looks down at the boy, who he only just learned is his own, and with a tear in his eye speaks to his sleeping son, paraphrasing the words his own father (Marlon Brando’s Jor-El) said to him.

“You will be different. Sometimes, you will feel like an outcast, but you will never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son.”

I haven’t watched that scene since having a son of my own. I don’t mind saying, sitting there snuggling with my boy, it got me more than a little choked up. Now my son is an incredibly empathetic child, and although he isn’t old enough to understand the complexities of a scene like that, on an emotional level he totally gets it.

There’s a quiet beat at the end of the scene when Superman puts his hand on his son’s sleeping head, as every dad in the world has done to his child. Just as I was fighting to keep my own composure, my son leans over to me and whispers “Daddy… I love you.”

You just don’t get that kind of thing from a Batman move.

-Dork Dad

 

Post Script – 24 hours later:

The debate has grown and taken on a life of its own. Here is a list of the relevant posts on the subject, all well worth your time:

wonder-womanProbably the most intelligent retort to the original premise… and it’s made by a woman (of course). Escaping Elegance made her position known (in defense of Superman) in her piece “Boys, boys… must we bicker?” but with an important addendum… Wonder Woman would likely do a better job than either of them.

 

 

 

2712662-670376_green_lantern___rebirth_06__2005___team_dcp__pg03_04_superAfter following the discussion, fellow dadblogger Eric Bolton felt compelled to tell us that we’re all crazy, and totally off the mark. He contends that as usual, the flashy 1st stringers get all the attention, when there’s another hero just outside the limelight (as opposed to emerald light) that deserves some consideration, with his post “Why Green Lantern is a Better Dad Than Batman AND Superman [Because No One Asked]”

 

batman-son-daddy-issuesCaptain of Team-Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, this is Ron Mattocks’s response to the question at hand. “A Letter To Batman From His Son” examines the long term effects on a child raised by The Dark Knight. The results aren’t pretty.

 

 

 

Screen-Shot-2013-06-09-at-4_13_07-PM-300x285Alan Kercinik, founding member of Team-Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, takes simultaneously an academic and viscerally emotional approach to the debate with his piece “6 Reasons Superman Would Be A Better Dad Than Batman”. As you might assume from the title, his feelings are pretty strong.

 

hywiv8JThe original post from the boys over at HowToBeADad. Their blog is a traffic-generating machine, so they don’t actually need any more hits via links from piddly little blogs like this one, but it’s the original post that sparked the debate. To understand the stakes involved you must first read the buffoonery “5 Reasons Batman Would Be A Better Dad Than Superman.”

It’s Just Sex, Dammit!

28 Jan

letter This weekend we lost some friends.

The news came in the form of a phone call from one of the parties involved. It was a sad goodbye, letting us know that our couples/family friendship, which we both enjoyed, was no longer. Their marriage was over. The culprit, of course, was sex.

I won’t pretend to empathize with either party. The pain they both must be going through is beyond my frame of reference. I won’t belittle it by offering platitudes. All I could do was offer condolences, reaffirm the “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do”, and re-emphasize that although the nature of our friendship will never be the same, my love will still be there, unchanged.

The totality of the news, taken in all its context, left me feeling ugly and defeated. Couple friends where the moms, dads and kids all get along simultaneously are hard to come by, and that loss was enough to put a damper on the day. But it was also a blow against faithful, committed relationships in a way that makes you feel sad and dirty at the same time.

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What is this grip that sex has over us? Yes, I’m a scientist. I understand the evolutionary importance and the irresistible limbic-system drive to procreate. I understand the biological rationale for sprinkling sexual implications into every aspect of our lives. I understand the neurochemical rewards we receive for having sex — how it feels so damn good it incentivizes more of the same behavior later. I appreciate that it is such a primitive, bare-bones, evolutionary drive that it sits right at the center of the collective psyche of our species, and for that reason it’s a really easy place for all the broken bits of our lives to manifest themselves and express themselves in our sexual behavior. It drives Kings to lose their kingdoms. It drives Presidents to impeachment. Countless families are torn apart by it. It makes actors cheat on Elizabeth Hurley.

For crying out loud, it’s just sex.

How much time in our lives do we spend actually performing sex, compared with everything else? Even a pr0n-actor (deliberate type-o to ward off unwanted google searches) who goes to work and has sex from 9-5, that’s only 40 hours a week (assuming no overtime) which boils down to less than 25% of all the hours in a week. To spend even 1% of all the hours in your life having sex you’d have to spend roughly 90 minutes a week in the act of lovemaking. Though it’s certainly within the realm of possibility, married couples with kids will tell you (with a wink and a smile) that 90 minutes a week is a good week.

TO SPEND EVEN 1% OF ALL THE HOURS IN YOUR LIFE HAVING SEX YOU’D HAVE TO SPEND ROUGHLY 90 MINUTES A WEEK IN THE ACT OF LOVEMAKING.

For something that takes up such a small fraction of the totality of what we do with our lives, how do we let it have such a grip over the rest? Entire industries revolve around sex. Those that don’t are infected by it whether they admit it or not. It’s everywhere. It’s inescapable; and yet, the success of my day has more to do with what the traffic on the freeway is like, rather than whether or not I had sex the night before. The emotional implications, the domestic implications and the health implications of our sexual practices seem ridiculously out of balance given everything else our lives require of us.

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There are a thousand things necessary for a successful day and a successful life. Balancing the checkbook. Reading to the kids. Visiting your parents. Maintenance on the house. Laughing. Resting. Playing. Growing. Learning. These are the things of life. These are the things that determine whether we are fulfilled, whether we are successful in life. None of them require intercourse. And yet still we venerate sex as the ultimate goal in life, as if everything else is just a way of occupying time between sexual interludes. We high-five our friends when they “got lucky” or “got some” or “got some action” as if to say “Well done. You got that taken care of. Now you can move on to all the other stuff.”

Granted, there is no better way to foster intimacy with your partner than sex. It connects you and makes you vulnerable and draws you together with another person like no other way can. But when considering intimacy, it isn’t even necessary for that (blasphemy, I know). Imagine the potency of your partner gently running her fingers through your hair, or down your back. Picture those moments when you’re lost, looking into your partner’s eyes, and neither of you has to say anything. Think for a moment on the lasting rewards of gently holding hands, or on the way you can totally lose yourself in a deep, committed kiss. These too are the things of intimacy. Because of them, even if you never knew sex, surely you could still know intimacy.

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To be cold and clinical, the only thing sex is absolutely *REQUIRED* for is baby making… and even in that case there are exceptions.

THE ONLY THING SEX IS ABSOLUTELY *REQUIRED* FOR IS BABY MAKING… AND EVEN IN THAT CASE THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS.

Last night lying in bed, after more than 10 years of marriage, I asked my wife “Do you trust me? I mean do you *REALLY* trust me?”

“Of course I do” she replied. “I wouldn’t have had three kids with you if I didn’t.”

She’s no dummy. The idea of me stepping out on her is laughable. First of all, even if I wanted to, there is no opportunity. I work from 7am – 6pm and I’m home within minutes for dinner. There are no real “nights out with the guys” or “business trips” which could be a cover for a clandestine meet-up with someone else. She’s all up in my life in a way that doesn’t allow for secrets. That’s just the way it is. Add to that the fact that in real life, guys like me just don’t get girls like her. She’s WAY above my station. She’s smarter than me. She’s more thoughtful than me. She’s a better parent than me. She’s more likeable than me. She’s infinitely better looking than me. She would have no problem finding a replacement for me. I, on the other hand, could never recover from losing her. Finally there’s also the fact that I am totally in love with her. She fills my cup completely. I look across the table at her and I can not imagine a better life.

And then she went and had my babies, and with each one I fell in love with her even more.

To lose all that for the fleeting, momentary, primitive, physical gratification of an extramarital tryst would be the height of insanity – even if I had the desire.

Which I don’t.

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It serves no purpose to play the pious blogger, and I’m conscientious about coming across that way. I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else. I am a relativist at heart and I can appreciate that it takes two people to be in a relationship. You can never know what’s going on behind the curtain in a relationship you aren’t part of, or what’s going on under the hood in a life you haven’t lived. But I will say this:

If somehow the act of sex was cleanly extracted from my life leaving everything else intact, although it would be incredibly disappointing (and as laughable as it may sound) my life in its entirety would be relatively unaffected. Everything that I need to get through my day would still be there. The love, the intimacy, the laughter, the living of life…

I’d just have to find some other way to fill that 1% of my time.

-Dork Dad

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