22 June 2008

An Odd Shelf

So I'm currently part of a book club, which is actually very cool because I've wanted to do this forever, and am quite pleased with my fellow reader's excitement for it as well. That's not the point though, because you can go read the blog if you feel so inclined.

Anyway, we're currently reading Ex Libris, a collection of essays on, what else, reading. One particular details the notion of any decent reader has an "odd shelf," i.e. a number of books one has picked up that just don't gel with the rest and usually reveal a lot about the reader's person. The author of the book, Anne Fadiman, for example, has a bunch of books on failed British expeditions to the antarctic. Mine, on the other hand, is Batman.

I won't detail the rich, and exciting history of my interest, although it began with the 60's T.V. corniness, moved to the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm animated series sometime shortly after and cemented itself when I asked for a Batman Returns (a movie I was not allowed to see as most PG-13's were definitely off limits to my childhood psyche) action figure. Okay, so maybe I'll detail a little bit of that history. Really, if you haven't realized I love me some Bats by now, then you're not a friend (and I hate you). It should be obvious, seeing as I've even thrown two elaborate mystery parties themed around it.

My odd shelf contains graphic novels, special editions comics, art books on the dark knight, guides to the D.C. created world, making of the different incarnations books, even novelizations of events/movies (which, as a general rule, are horrible). Its kind of funny, chilling next to the literature, and naturally looks odd to those who don't know me.

I'm not going to babble about Batman though, because I realize no one else is interested. Fadiman compares her interest in this polar voyages to that of a knowing a dead language - its fascinating to you, but no one else is there. You can't trot this stuff out a parties. Nobody cares of the tragedies and exploits that have decimated Gotham's rich history, how Jeung and Lovecraft inspired story elements, that complex, encompassing plots and incredible graphic work like Hush make for great reading, or the interesting sidebars I've stored like Harvey Dent's sick interest in Renee Montoya. Don't even get me started on the moral subtexts and psychology of the character. Seriously, dead language.

Now the movie sequel to Batman Begins is coming out. Of which I'm thrilled about. I have great faith in the cast and Christopher Nolan. Finally here is a story that eschews the strange Burton-esque spin of the first two, and the ridiculous camp of the Schumacher era. At last a decent Batman film that helps others see the exciting world I've totally fallen in love with (but would never want to visit). Hooray for the first, and now with the second, I'm definitely being spoiled. Hooray for Dark Knight.

These are good tidings, of course, that my odd shelf is becoming a bit more mainstream. And yet, is it really? Because sure, now everyone is excited about the movie and likes to profess their interest in the superhero, but the moment I start in, their eyes get wide and they back slowly away. Its like I have to test the waters by asking, "How much do you know about Batman?" If I can gauge their level of interest, I can appear not-so-crazy. Inevitably though, I always follow this up at some point in the conversation with, "But I'm a huge Batman fan," trying to dismiss the psychotic episode I've just had in which I give them far too much information on Ra's al Ghul or Mr. Zsaz.

It's worst at work, when a table sees my Batman belt and tries to start a conversation on it. In the 2 years or so I've worked as a server, only one person has ever been able to compete. But really, I doubt anyone is entitle to give me too much flack, because behind those wide and scared eyes is someone who has their own odd shelf, which they keep relegated to their private life so others don't give them the stare I'm getting. It might not be true, but I feel justified in thinking it. And I urge you, the next time you're at a party, to start a conversation with someone about your own odd shelf, just for the reaction. Sure, it'll make you socially awkward and probably revoke your invite from future soirees, but that's a small price to pay for chatting someone's ear off for an hour about a subject they just don't care about.

Try it, and relieve yourself the burden of your hidden interest.

11 June 2008

Requests Before I Go... Or Should that be Demands?

So I was cleaning out the "project room," as we like to refer to it. All the junk from the world of smalltime indie films (Satanic Seal for sale... extremely heavy) and costume creations (aluminum armor can damage you emotionally too) and random attempts at learning new skills (using contact cement as a skin replacement, for example) and just plan cool whims (yeah, that's my pimp cup, bitch) have been shunted to this room.

Seeing as it is getting a little out of control, the time had come to clean. My project stuff was in veritable disarray anyway and the effort required to get the items one needed at a given time meant you had to recall what you had used it for last, and then find the bag with it. Heat gun... heat gun... creating fake limbs? No. Drying latex masks? No. Melting red crayons into "blood?" No. Reshaping sintra? Ah, there it is.

So I organized and cleaned, and its... not even close. But it is getting there, and that's something right? Yet another half finished project for me to have under my belt ( I'm an avid collector of them). And as I was doing so, I started pulling out the weapons made/purchased or whatever. And lo and behold, I remember how fun they were, and donned a couple.

This picture was the result.

I have made sure that my friends and family whom I've shown this too will hand it over to the media once I go on a shooting spree. That way news anchors will have something to cut to while they make statements like:

"If we could show that picture of the suspect once again. Clearly this was a disturbed young man and we have to ask why no one saw the signs."

Which will be followed by:

"Now police are telling us that before he took his own life, he screamed that video games and violent films were the cause of his rage. As you can tell from the photo it looks like he is carrying several bladed weapons from extremely bloody games like 'Riven: the Sequel to Myst,' and movies such as 'Lord of the Rings.' There also appears to be a pirate sword, like those used in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies. Joining us is Dr. Laura, as well as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, none of whom are experts on anything, but sure espouse to be. Thank you for being here. Can any of you say "I-told-you-so" on behalf of the Conservative Right-Winged Religious Republican movement? And do you think the 'Golden Compass' with its atheist themes played a part in this tragedy?"

I'm glad I could make a contribution. But then, I don't really think I'll be going to postal anytime soon. Oh sure, working at the Mac Grill makes me slightly crazy. Just not that crazy. Although sometimes I wonder about some of my fellow employees...