Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rant-O-Rama


Here are various Rants that were originally on Facebook.  Things have been crazy lately, so I have been unable to write any new blog posts.  Many of my Facebook friends please bear with these re-posts.


November 15

So recently Big-Ass Sandwiches shared a video of the Daily Shows reaction to Papa John's owner’s attitude about Medical insurance. So a troll slams them for their opinion then proceeded to insult them, their business and patrons. I was going to respond to this person. I remembered I should never feed trolls. I was irritated that this person felt the need to besmirch these business people for using the First Amendment right to expound their opinion. The tenor of discourse has devolved so far that if you disagree with someone, one feels they have the right to denigrate and insult them. Why cannot people just agree to disagree? What make this world so interesting is no tow people are alike even Identical twin are not exact copies. I would rather embrace our differences than use them against each other. This tomfoolery is why certain folks are saying they want to secede since their side lost in the recent election. I am not saying I agree with Brian and Lisa Wood. Whether or not I do is my business. What I am saying is I defend their right to say or believe what ever they wish regardless.


November 29

OK, people who I have been hanging around lately have already heard this. My opinion on the whole fake girl geek/nerd thing is simple. Those who are going after these ladies STOP IT, and by stop it, I mean NOW. Please do not scare the ladies off. Who are we to judge who is real or not real? Don't make me snap you in the back of the head with my wool newsie cap. When I was in my twenties the ladies rarely came around to geek/nerd events. Most of this is due to the behavior of some of my fellow geek/nerds of my generation. Please stop it. I know some of you do not know how to behave with ladies. Hell I myself struggle sometimes with social cues. One cannot judge another's passion without being that person. So stop it. You are behaving just like those idiot jocks that used to torture us in high school and in some cases college/ University. Grow up. More bodies are more bodies and that means the Corporations controlling are favorite pop culture icons see monetary potential.  To paraphrase the bible judge not lest ye be judged. So please Stop it and do not ruin it for the rest of us.


December 20

I recently saw the segment of Members of the Westboro Baptist Church on Brand X, Russell Brand's TV show on FX. This sect and attitudes like it are why I had problems with Christianity as practiced by many in this country. They judge and presume to know what God or the Universal Spirit thinks or feels. If one believes in the Personification of the Spirit of Creation, one must realize it is so vast and our little brains cannot fathom its motivations if it has any. This Sect continues to spout scripture and platitudes that support their hate. They even dispute the phrase that God loves the sinner and hates the sin. My attitude is if things go on between consenting adults that has no harm who I am to judge. Humans are not infallible including when we try to interpret the will of a being that is so beyond us. Whether or not someone is going to Hell if such a place exists is up to the Supreme Universal Spirit not to people. Justifying hate with the will of God is a perpetuation of Evil that frustrates me to no end. If I offend any of my Christian Friends and/ or Family, I apologize. This is how I feel about the matter.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Identity


In the fall of 2012 I saw the video of Lana Wachowski’s acceptance speech from the HRC.  This speech made me think strongly of my struggles with identity.  She had her own struggle based on gender identity.  I had mine with being defined by labels, some of which I was placing on myself.  I was defining myself based on my physical limitations, my cleft palate, lip and hearing impairment.  I am not my limitations; I am a sum of all my parts and experiences.  I stopped doing this years ago in my twenties.  After a long abusive relationship, I found myself identifying myself with my limitations again.  This is the result of putting so much of myself into the relationship.  I lost sight of who I was, I defined myself by being my ex’s caretaker and defined myself the way she did.  She defined herself by her illnesses and limitations.  As a kid I learned to stop asking what I could not do, but what I could do.  A long conversation with Kaebel Hashitani helped me rethink that pattern of thinking.  Being born with a birth defect I have found that my insides did not match what was outside, because of this I have often felt a kinship to the LGBT community although I do not belong to it.  I had also always felt to be an outsider looking in, just because of an accident of genetics.

One label I clung to was Geek and/ or Nerd.  I am so much more.  I am educated, resourceful, playful, irreverent, knowledgeable, perceptive and kind, at the least.  Like many in the Geek/ Nerd community I have my social quirks, most of those are due to being isolated from my peers at a young age due to hospitalization.  That should never be an excuse, so when I find I do something that is awkward towards someone else I do my best not to repeat it.  One of my gifts in handling my physical limitations is being able to read faces and body language, so I try to be less oblivious than when I was younger.  I also work to not allow my passions to over rule me.  Passions can become obsessions and unhealthy ones at that.  I may be a Geek and a Nerd, but that is not the be all and end all of what I am.  Recently I have found a home within the Portland, Oregon Geek/ Nerd Community.  A majority of folks there have made me feel welcome.  They have also helped me in healing my wounds from my previous situation.

My Racial/ Ethnic/ Cultural identity has been interesting.  I grew up in what appeared to be a standard Blue Collar Caucasian American household.  My neighborhood and hometown was more interesting.  My neighborhood’s ethnic make-up was 6o% Mexican-American and 40% everything else.  This was in the early Seventies during the Chicano power movement.  I dealt with anti-white sentiment from my peers very young.  I learned to overcome the animosity I felt from this period.  My hometown of Oxnard, California had a large and influential Japanese-American community as well.  I have a Filipino Aunt who taught my mother her culture’s cuisine.  When it came to food my household was extremely multi-cultural.  When my family moved to Oregon full time, I found myself in white bread land.  I soon realized how much I was impacted by Mexican-American culture growing up.  I learned both Square Dancing and Traditional Mexican Dancing in grade school.  My mom learned how to make homemade tortillas from the neighbor ladies.  So I find myself in Yamhill County and it definitely in the Eighties had very little Cultural variety.   In College and my Twenties I was introduced to Hawaiian culture by friends from that culture.  They embraced me and I learned that thanks to my Aunt we had some of the same cultural touchstones.  My Hawaiian friends taught me more of their culture.  Now, I do not claim any right to Hawaiian, Mexican-American, Japanese-American, Filipino and any other culture that has impacted me over the years.  I cannot speak for them.  My life however is richer by their influences upon me.

In my twenties I learned My Paternal Grandfather was Jewish.  I tried to learn about that part of my heritage, but came up against a few roadblocks.  First, it was on my father’s side of the family, according to many branches of Judaism the heritage follows the mother’s side.  Second, I was not raised in that culture or religion so had not clue how to behave.  I may have made some serious mistakes. I grew up being raised in a Protestant Christian household, not as strict as my mother or paternal grandmother; both grew up Pentecostal.  Third, I was viewed as an outsider by some and that did not help.  I met many folks who helped me understand.   I also found out when I was 11, than my paternal Grandmother had Native American heritage.  Learning about this was even more difficult.  Even though I resemble that side of the family, I appear to be totally Caucasian.  Native Americans have experienced a lot of crap from White Americans.  People with little Native American heritage have tried to tell Full Blooded folks what their culture was.  That burns after centuries have being denied their culture by the U.S. Government.  I am still trying to discover what that side of the family is so I can learn that heritage, because Native American is not one Culture but hundreds.  Although I appear to be very White Bread Caucasian, due to my experiences and heritage I am multicultural. 

My Spiritual path has been an interesting one.  I grew up in an Evangelical Christian household and I felt no matter how much good I did it would never be enough.  I tried to fit in, but the intolerance of people of differing faiths frustrated me to no end.  This was even worse because I had family and friends in those faiths.  In my twenties through the RPG Shadowrun I discovered Shamanism, it sang to me.  I decided to research the real stuff.  I found a lot of things I loved.  I fell in with the New Age and Neo-Pagan communities.  I started to research Shamanism from a Pre-Christian European point of view so that lead me to the Neo-Pagan Community.  When trying to learn about Shamanism among Native American Nations, I found it easy with books, but people were wary.  Too many Caucasian folks before me have taken parts of their spirituality without permission and then criticized those who lived and grew in that path.  I have tried to follow my path with respect towards everyone.  I had a mentor who taught me Wicca, I continued there till I saw my path diverging.  My personal path is a mixture of Celtic, Norse and Native American, much like my own self.  One thing I do is I refer to myself as a Shamanist not a Shaman.  This is on purpose.  Shaman denotes a Spiritual leader; I have never claimed to be one.  I may become one, but I am not comfortable with that title now.  Shamanist to me implies a follower of shamanism.  In the Neo-Pagan community many people use Shaman, Druid and Witch; those titles seem to me to be leadership roles.  So that community seems top heavy with leaders and lacking in followers.

I am also a Survivor. I survived Childhood Sexual Abuse, Domestic Violence and Abuse.  I am open about the sexual abuse, but I try not to be too forward of it.  It was particularly difficult being a male Survivor of a Female abuser, I was six and she was sixteen.  Many male friends when I confided them about the abuse laughed and said I got lucky.  I never felt lucky about it.  I never felt shameful about it after I came forward to my parents about it.  I was lucky in the fact it was not a family member.  The trauma of it made it difficult for me to have sexual relationships; it also had me confused about my sexual identity.  Once I figured that I was a normal Heterosexual male and that what  my abuser did had little to do with sex and more to do with power, I was ready.  Before that I was able to have platonic relationship with women, but romantic ones were problematic on my end.  I had a few missteps with relationships and my first major one was abusive.  Now, since I only recently got out of that situation I do seem to bring it up quite a bit.  That is not because of the label.  That is due to the fact I am still trying to get my head around what happened and the fact I am finally out of it after fourteen years.  To my friends, if my discussing my Ex is tiring, I apologize.  Please be patient with me, even after a year it is still raw.  I am trying to figure out where I fit into this new life of mine.  I still question everything about the relationship, my exit, and my life in the last fourteen years.  From what I understand, it is normal.  Many of the Portland geek community helped me through this situation, with their podcasts.  The various live events gave me a clue what life without my Ex could be, I needed that spark to give me the idea to leave.  It also showed me how much life I was missing.  In many ways I had lost myself in the relationship.  This exercise is helping me reassert my Identity and who I am.

In the year since my big upheaval, I have had to reevaluate who and what I am.  I am still trying to figure out who I want to be.  I definitely know who I do not what to be: a burden, a victim, a know-it-all, a curmudgeon, a cynic, a pessimist, an abuser, a jerk, a sad sack, and pitiful.  I am rediscovering friends, joys, passions, laughter and myself.  I thought I would share some of that journey with folks.  Is this everything?  No, it is just the tip of the proverbial ice berg.  It is a huge start.  One thing I know is if I stop growing as a person, I must not be living.  I am still growing and cannot wait to see what is next for me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Professional Wrestling & Me


So up until 9 months ago, I was a regular watcher of Professional Wrestling.   I stopped watching, because I lost interest years ago.  The main reason I kept watching was gone, due to the ending of a long relationship.  In my family, previous generations were obsessed with Professional Wrestling.  My Paternal Grandfather was huge into it.  He preferred the regional Promotions to the big Federations.  According to Family legend he was banned from live shows of Portland Wrestling, due to his over active enthusiasm.  I stayed with my grandfather at his home one spring and discovered his stash of Pro Wrestling Illustrated Magazines.  My Mother’s maternal grandparents were also avid Professional Wrestling fanatics.  My Maternal Uncle Bob used to watch NWA on TBS on the weekend when I was a teenager.  In my immediate family, Professional Wrestling was not that big.  I would catch it from time to time, but if another family member entered the room I was expected to change it.  I kind of knew the big names from WWF and NWA both would change their names to WWE and WCW respectively.  From time to time I would catch Portland Wrestling with Beetlejuice (Art Bar), Scotty the Body (Raven AKA Scott Levy) and Rowdy Roddy Piper in the late 80’s/ early 90’s.

When I met my Ex, she was into watching both WWF and WCW at the time.  I followed suit even played the video games (starting with WWF Attitude and Smackdown).  In the mid 2000’s we subscribed to WWE on Demand.  That is where my true passion found its home.  I got to catch up with the great wrestlers I never got the chance to see.  I became fascinated with Superstar Billy Graham, The Road Warriors, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jessie Ventura, Undertaker, Mick Foley, The Wild Samoan Family, Stone Cold Steve Austin, ECW, AWA,  Regional Promotion system, The Four Horsemen, Andre the Giant, Eddie Guererro, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and so much more.  I got to see WWE live four times, Two house shows (one for Raw and one for Smackdown) and Two Live show Tapings (one Raw and One Smackdown).  House shows are untelevised shows. My favorite was the Smackdown house show; we were 10 feet from the ring. 

The last four years my interest has waned.  Partly due to the fact my favorite wrestlers are retiring or slowing down the amount of appearances they make.  Undertaker wrestles maybe 4 to 6 months a year, same with Triple H.  Stone Cold and Edge cannot wrestle due medical issues.  Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a movie star and rarely wrestles.  There are new wrestlers, but I have found very few that I enjoy.  A many of my favorites have passed away, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guererro, Road Warrior Animal, Randy Savage, Test, Chris Candido, Umaga, and many others.  TNA has a lot of my favorites, but the production standards stink.  TNA’s writing also is lacking.  They use the rejects of WWE, WCW and ECW for the behind the scenes stuff.  I have become disinterested in Professional Wrestling; my reasons for watching have gone away.  I however still love finding DVD Collections of the old stuff from the 2000’s and earlier.

Yes, I know Professional Wrestling is usually predetermined, but that does not detract from the majesty of the Athleticism of it.  Today, it is more Entertainment than sport.  Professional Wrestlers though still risk their lives and Health to put on a show.  In many ways it is a glorified Stunt Exposition show.  The more risky the moves, the more excitement there is.  Some moves are banned by most promotions.  WWE only allows Kane, Undertaker and Jerry “The King” Lawler to perform the Piledriver and its variations.  Many wrestlers have died or been permanently injured by moves gone wrong.  Ask, Stone Cold and Darren Drozdov.  I loved watching it, but now I will stick to those that have stood the test of time as greats.  I will watch the old stuff.  That is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Morality versus Ethics


Now who would have thought that television has me question heavy subjects?  Thanks to recent television, I have looked into the differences between being ethical and moral.  Your stereotypical protagonist is both ethical and moral.  In opposition your stereotypical antagonist is Immoral and unethical.  In three of my favorite recent shows, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, and Justified, they have explored a different dynamic.  First lest look at the definitions of Ethical and Moral.  The definition of Ethical is being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession.  Moral is defined as the following: of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong.  In the Shield, Vic Mackey is Moral, but Unethical.  He does all the wrong things for the right reasons.  In the opposite corner we have Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy; he is Ethical, but Immoral.  Clay does all the right things for the wrong reasons.  Clay has a code of rules he does not break.  Those rules are outside the norm.  Both shows have these characters devolve as they break their own personal codes as things snowball against them.  The funny thing is Sons of Anarchy creator, Kurt Sutter was a staff writer on the Shield.  That is probably why we some of the same themes on both shows.  Let’s break down the two characters.

Vic Mackey is a hardboiled detective.  He is working in the world of Los Angeles street gangs.  This is not a world of black and white.  Vic knows drugs will never go away, so he tries to control things so the least amount of harm happens to the general public.  His control is an illusion, the more he tries to control the streets the more things get out of hand.  He finds himself so deep down the rabbit hole.  Like the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Vic’s behavior cost him, lives, friendships, relationships and his reputation.

Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy has done some bad things, but he is a criminal.  He wallows in it.  He however is against drugs being in his club and town. Typical of both works, he compromises his beliefs and all that goes out the window.  He broke a big code years ago and the fallout form that leads to more chaos.  In Clay’s downward spiral he sacrifices everything he loves and believes in, his family, his club and his standing. 

What I like about theses shows and Justified, is that they deal in the moral and ethical ambiguities that our world is made up of.  There is never a clear action that is not going to compromise something.  There is never a clear right or wrong.  Also when something seems to be too good or too easy, it blows up in the faces of the main characters.  Life is never clean, easy or understandable.  Good guys do bad things and bad guys to great things.  People are never A or B, they are sometimes both in varying degrees.  That is My Not so Humble Opinion.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Podcast Excellence


So I am a big fan of podcasts.  This started when I got my first MP3 Player in December of 2007.  For the uninitiated, a podcast is an audio or video show that is distributed via the internet.  Podcasts come in many formats, dramas, audio literature (books and short stories), Talk shows, sketch shows, comedies and many more.  I can blame  90% of my podcasts on two shows. Cort and Fatboy show here in Portland, it started out as a terrestrial radio show.  They started podcasting the conversations that were going on off the air between the on air segments, they are now a strictly internet based podcast.  The Other show was City of Heroes Podcast with Chooch and Vivid.  They are a married couple that podcasted their tips for the game. 

Cort and Fatboy led to Geek in the City, Rick Emerson Show, Chronicles of the Nerds, KA Podcast, Big and Loud Podcast, The Mediocre Show, Funemployment Radio, Boy Howdy Podcast, Ham Fisted Radio, Portland Sucks, Uni-Bash Radio, and more.  They were my introduction to the Portland Geek Community.  Thanks to them I have become involved in the greater Metropolitan Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA area.  I got involved with Geek Trivia, Listener parties for the various shows, Midnight Movies, Geeklesque (geek themed Burlesque by Critical Hit Burlesque), various local conventions (Wonder NW), comic book release and signing parties, and many more local events.  I have even been approached to help out with Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture.   I have made friends; I have been given a pirate name, and created new social connections I would have not made otherwise. 

The City of Heroes Podcast led me to Chooch and Viv’s other show Into the Blender.  They had various promos that led me to various Podcast Dramas, Podcast Novels, and Podiobooks. The Podcast writers, sites and shows that they led me to are:  Podiobooks.com, Philippa Ballantine, Tee Morris, Nathan Lowell, Christiana Ellis, P.G. Holyfield, Scott Sigler, Matthew Wayne Selznick, Mur Lafferty, Jared Axelrod, J.R. Blackwell, J. Daniel Sawyer, A.P. Stephens, Basil Sands, Bill DeSmedt, Drew Beatty, Steve Saylor, Prometheus Radio Theater, Seth Harwood, Paulette Jaxton, Brad Gamblin, Patrick McLean, Phil Rossi , Tuning into SciFi TV, Angle Between the Lines, Buffy Between the Lines, Mark Eller, Lindsay Buroker, M. Terry Green, Paul Elard Cooley, Abigail Hilton, John Lenahan, Nobilis Reed and many more.  Thanks to this show I was part of the City of Heroes Podcast community.  I have not only discovered new innovative writers and their works, I have been given ideas how to approach my own writing career.  I have made friends here too.  I have not met many of the folks on this branch of my podcast community.  I did get to meet Scott Sigler and some Portland area Junkies.  They have me wanting to attend Balticon and Dragon-con someday.  I also feel the need to try the local conventions I have missed, Rose City Comic-Con, OryCon, and Stumptown Comic Con.

When I first was introduced to these, I was in a bad relationship and bad work situation.  Both of those situations have improved since, I left the relationship and changed bosses.  All these shows and folks gave me hope and something to aid me in dealing with life’s garbage.  Not all of this will be for you, but there is something for most people in these artists and shows.  That is My Not so Humble Opinion.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nerd versus Geek


A lot of people not in Geek Culture ask me a question:  What is the Difference between a Geek and a Nerd?  Many people have many answers.  Mostly Geeks are seen as obsessive about their interests to the Nth Degree.  Nerds are intelligent and very studious about their interests.  Can one be both a geek and a Nerd? Yes, they can.  Many a Physics Nerd is also a Star Trek Geek.  In my experience a Nerd can have knowledge and know how to use his knowledge in a practical was.  Computer Nerds can field strip a PC blind folded.  A Computer Geek can make a cool website, but does not know how to parlay that into a career.  Some geeks can use their knowledge practically.  Harry Knowles has done that with his website Ain’t It Cool News.  For Example I am a Comic Book and SciFi/ Fantasy Geek, but I am also a Mythology, Folklore, and Literature Nerd.  I have both the training and education in those fields.  I am more scholarly in my Nerd interests, than is not to say one cannot be scholarly about comics and SciFi/Fantasy.   Many Comic Book Professionals are also studious about their Artistic Format of choice.  Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek are examples of this.

I recently took a Geek/Nerd/Dork test online.  My Results were: 65 % Nerd, 48% Geek, and 26% Dork.  According to the test, a Nerd is passionate about knowledge in an Academic way.  Geeks are passionate about obsessions, many of which are obscure or socially scorned. Like I said in my Geek Button essay, Goths could be seen as Geeky.  Hell, Abby on NCIS straddles those two worlds wonderfully.  Now we are in Geek Renaissance, it is acceptable to be geeky.  It is becoming part of mainstream culture.  This has the old school hardcore Geeks up in arms.  Another difference between Geeks and Nerds in my experience, Nerds want mainstream acceptance and Geeks are torn by it.  Geeks don’t want to be ridiculed, but they don’t want to share in their obsession either.  It is theirs; they feel they have a right to say who is truly into and who is a poseur. 

My Opinion is it does not matter what other people think, even other Geeks or Nerds.  Are there poseur glomming onto Geek Culture, because it is the new big thing?  Yes, those folks will not be around in five years.  The True Believers will still be around once the dust settles.  Is it possible to both a Geek and a Nerd?  Yes, most Nerdy and Geeky people can be Nerdy about one thing and Geeky about another.  Does it Matter? No, be happy regardless.  They are just labels; never let labels define you completely.  Remember it is part of who you are.  It is not all you are.  That is My not so Humble Opinion.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nardcore WTF


OK, folks.  I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles called Oxnard, CaliforniaOxnard is an interesting place there are parts of it that are worse than parts of Los Angeles Proper.  I grew up in one of the rougher neighborhoods, and area now referred to as the Rio Lindo District.  Oxnard also has some of the most affluent people living there too, especially on the coast.  I am a bit of a Music Geek, but I did not know my hometown had its own Punk Movement.  That Movement is called Nardcore of all things.  The bands from this movement include Doctor Know, Aggression, Ill Repute, False Confession, Habeas Corpus, RKL and Scared Straight.

The Kicker to this is where in Oxnard the Movement was based.  That is the affluent neighborhoods of Oxnard Shores and Silver Strand.   This was in the Early Eighties when I was in Junior and Senior High School.  The Original Punk movement in New York was a Starving Artistic Movement and its successor the London Punk movement was about rebelling against the upper classes and government.  The Nardcore were rich kids most of them Skater or Surf Punks.  Not much to rebel against, except for the size of their allowance and non locals at their beaches. 

I knew of these guys, but due to my economics situation I could not relate.  When I did get into punk from Southern California it was X, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad Religion and Social Distortion.  These bands talked of similar struggles as I saw growing up. Except for X and Suicidal Tendencies I did not get into Punk till I was in College.  In Oxnard I was into Hard rock and Heavy Metal.  Punk was expensive because most of it was new stuff you would have to buy and sometimes you had to hunt down a record store that carried them.  That was due to the fact they were on minor labels.  The kids in my neighborhood would tape copies of their albums and tapes and trade them for ones they did not have.  Most of the Punk kids I knew in Oxnard bought all their albums brand new. 

So in the late Eighties I discover Punk and its various movements.  I love the stuff it was nothing like what I experienced with privileged Punks in Oxnard.  Later about a few years ago I discover that Nardcore existed.  I look up the bands and they are bands that all the guys who used to hassle me in high school listened to, especially the guys from the Shore and the Strand.  I have tried to listen to them, but I still cannot get past the socio-economic differences and my history.  That is just me.  This Is My Not So Humble Opinion.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uncanny Metaphors


The obvious theme in the X-Men comic books is racism.  For me it had a very interesting resonance.  Having been born with a Cleft Palate and Lip, I am what real world genetic mutation is like.  It is not a beneficial thing in most cases in the real world.  To a teenaged kid struggling with having a facial deformity, though minor, in 1980’s Southern California, the Uncanny X-Men was a revelation of sorts.  It helped me accept my differences.  Yes, the Marvel Mutants had wonderful, amazing and extraordinary powers.  In many cases those offset any negative mutations.  I felt a kindred spirit though to those with more challenges like Rogue, who could not touch another person without negative consequences.  I liked Nightcrawler, who wore his mutation on his skin, like I did.  He like me could not hide his differences.  In 1980’s Southern California’s cult of physical perfection, I felt definitely on the outside of normal.  Now in retrospection, the cult of physical perfection was not normal especially on the altar of plastic surgery. 

I felt that no matter what I did or how much reconstructive I got, I would never measure up.  I was a freak; the X-men taught me that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The X-men themes included not just societal acceptance, but self acceptance.  Some characters like Angel (pre-Apocalypse’s modification) and Beast reveled in their differences.  That exampled helped me realized that being different may not be a curse, but a blessing.  Whether by design or unintentional, the X-men helped many who felt on the outside of society see their differences as something wonderful. 

Many have used the mutant struggle as analogy for the Civil Rights Movement, the Gay Lesbian and Transgendered Rights Movement, Religious and Cultural Tolerance, Body Modification sub-culture, and the Disabled Rights Movement.  With the recent Things Get Better Campaign and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Anthem, these themes still resonate after almost fifty years of Publication.  Be it race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity or anything that can be used to divide people, the X-men speaks to those who feel left out of the norm or majority.

The Various Writers on the X-men Titles have explored almost every reaction to disenfranchisement: Extreme Militancy, Pacifistic Resistance, Isolationism, Integration, Self Loathing, and Self Aggrandizement.  All of these themes resonate to the feelings of individuals feeling on the outside.  Every human being needs and wants to be accepted by someone, but everyone fears rejection.  The X-men calls to these feelings and fears, they also address those concerns in both a person and societal level.  In the U.S., the idea of being different, but part of something bigger also rings true.  We are a country made up of many cultures, Races, religions, and philosophies.  So the idea of the acceptance of anyone is part of our National Ideals.  These ideals are not always practiced.  The X-Men try to aspire to this Ideal.  I think that is a noble sentiment. That is my not so humble opinion.