Follow by Email

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dorkruary: Amendment

I'm going to adjust the terms of my project. I cannot commit to writing daily posts.

I left freelance writing because it had become a rat race. I love writing, but I gain more pleasure right now out of writing when I feel. Deadlines are not solid or significant. I hope someday to re-establish writing as a means to supplement or generate income and on as many of my own terms as possible, but that moment is not now.

One of my greatest frustrations is that I cannot do everything that I set my mind to. The limitation is not ability, but time. I refuse to believe that I must give up my passions to survive in this world, this culture and I shall continue to work from the basis of that belief.

It's all a balancing act, and I suppose that subjecting myself to such situations is my own personal form of defiance against a thing or two as well as wages of my life choice. I'm even having difficulty balancing improv, acting, and clowning prospects; all are things I like to do, all are things at which I wish to excel, all are things in which I feel I don't yet excel enough. I get frustrated with having an embarrassment of riches and having to choose one pursuit over another, but it's preferable to the alternative.

I will always be "black and nerdy" and I believe that I can still write well and eventually for pay once more (and for more than I did the first go). I just have to be okay with letting my writing ambitions take a back seat for the time being and push back the push back to freelancing and beyond.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dorkruary: The Souls of Nerd Folk

There are few realms in which black people are lonelier than that of nerdity (curling and cricket still beat it out). Playing "Only Black Guy In The Room" tends to make for an easy game, and in the moments when black geeks encounter each other there is much joy, relief, and fellowship.

Being a black nerd/geek/dork is one of the many fields in the battle to broaden a limited, stifling, short-sighted idea of what Being Black means. A November 2011 article on features a few individuals who relate experiences of being "not like other black people".

You can read it here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dorkruary: A Jester's Job

"A man may say full sooth in game and play." –Geoffrey Chaucer
"Jesters do oft prove prophets." – William Shakespeare
"Many a truth is told in jest." – common paraphrasing

Clowns, jokers, and jesters have, in part, always had the duty of and freedom to be poking fun at authority figures. As eras progressed to modern times, that realm grew to include celebrities (and our cultural fascination with them), government, media, and other institutions. Humor can be used to put one in one's place, to provoke thought, or simply to entertain and distract from the low moments of the human condition.

It is in that spirit that I present a pointed, socially relevant, metaphoric way to say "I couldn't care less." (or as some people incorrectly say: "I could care less." I doubt one is actually, intentionally saying that they could care less).

"I care about as much as the news cares about a black kidnap victim."

Be offended if you like, but it's true. Hopefully, thought provoked.

Dorkruary: All Philled Up

You've seen him on MadTV, in Pulp Fiction, Step-Brothers, and other movies and tv shows, but you've heard him a whole lot more. Phil LaMarr is everywhere and is one of the workingest voice actors in animation today. Hermes, Kit Fisto, Samurai Jack, Wilt from "Foster's Home . . . ."

"Workingest" shall be regarded as a valid word in this and in future cases. Once you're done with his webpage courtesy of the link above, check out his imdb page. Then you'll understand.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dorkruary: No Black Folks in Iowa

Even now, it's common to hear black people from other, "blacker" environs glibly proclaim that they had no idea that there were even black people in Iowa.

It's important to remember – and irresponsible and ignorant to presume otherwise – that many escaped slaves and freedmen didn't stay close to home as they escaped slavery. The northeastern states were not the only place in the country to go, and Chicago was never the only city in the Midwest worth being, contrary to popular belief. The United States of America has always offered huge expanses of open space as a resource to the adventurous and enterprising.

Today, Iowa lies at the crossroads of two major interstates: I-35 and I-80; it has always been on the way from somewhere to somewhere else. Before it was flyover country, it was "drive through" country and any place with valued resources – rich, arable land with ample rainfall; plenty of open, unclaimed space; shale and coal deposits – would be popular to settlers of any color or creed. Add to that the fact that Iowa shares a border with Missouri – one of the slavery border states – and you have territory that is accessible to and attractive to plenty of escaped slaves and freedmen, not to mention abolitionist John Brown.

The Root features an article mentioning 15 all-black or predominately black settlements in the United States, including Buxton, IA (number 8) and Muchakinock, IA (number 9). More information can be found here, courtesy of the African American Museum of Iowa.

"There aren't any black people in Iowa!"

And you're an idiot.

Dorkruary: More Than Tokens

In the middle of a brief comic–buying and –reading period (before my meager college budget was overtaxed by the swarm of books that grabbed my attention), an interesting thing happened. DC Comics unveiled a Vertigo-like sub-body whose goal it was to produce stories featuring more multicultural characters and through them, more diverse stories or takes on familiar tropes.

 Dwayne McDuffie and his crew of dedicated writers, editors, artists, and support staff drove Milestone Comics beyond any simplistic idea of being a parade of superpowered tokens. Their efforts brought to life many characters of all ethnicities and took them beyond being "Black Wonder", "Megachief", or "Asian Batman". Their spring 1993 launch consisted of four titles: Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static and soon expanded to include other titles. Later, Static enjoyed a slightly longer life as the cartoon "Static Shock".

Though Milestone comics is gone, McDuffie is still heavily involved in writing and animation projects. Milestone's existence brought some new talent into the pool and very likely inspired more talent that has yet to be discovered.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dorkruary: Living Colour

When you're a black kid growing up and going to school in a predominately white suburb of a predominately white city in a predominately white state ("There aren't any black people in Iowa!") identity is something not to be taken for granted.

Maybe your parents taught you not to speak so much slang. They brought you up speaking operative English and other black kids will say you "talk white" and well-meaning white people will say you "speak so well".

Chances are that other black kids will be used to more black people being around and will stick together. Chances are that they won't listen to much that's not rap, R&B, blues, or soul. Chances are that the only black rocker you knew of was Jimi Hendrix and you didn't hear a whole lot of him. Prince was Prince and somehow he didn't count as rock so much and he got a pass from black people for playing guitar without being in a blues band.

One day you see a video for a song called "Middle Man" and for some reason it doesn't click just then. Months later you see a video for a song called "Cult of Personality" and it blows your shit open.

That's when you learn – or maybe relearn – that black




Your older sister buys you Vivid on cassette for your birthday (along with Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back). That thoughtful, calculated act further encourages you, telling you that it's okay.

It's okay to have brown or near-black skin and to like guitars

and to listen to rock.

And you are taught once again that music is given significance by only two things: who's playing and who's listening; you're reminded that skin color doesn't mean shit if you can play your ass off and people enjoy it.

And you learn that the other black kids who measure blackness by a scale, litmus test, or checklist are just a new form of slave and you're just a little more free than you were before.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Another spur-of-the-moment idea that will double as a writing challenge to me.

Yes, so it's Black History Month, or as I view it: the one month where more people focus increased attention to something my parents already made into a habit for me and my siblings. As such, I just tend to call it "February".

Each day – beginning today – I will write a blog post about someone black, with the only caveat being that they are somehow tied to media and/or dorketry. The three of you readers out there will probably note that for me, this could include anything, but most likely entertainment or science. It will likely serve most as another peek into what things rattle around in my head when I'm busy procrastinating or doing the time-tested gifted kid activity of paying more attention to things that interest me rather than what is most pertinent.

So prepare yourselves. For these next 29 days, my dorketry shall be a little more tan.