Tuesday, December 30, 2008

LISTMANIA

I enjoy listing things. Here are some lists.

Painters that I like:

* H.R. Giger
* Salvador Dali
* Andy Warhol
* Jackson Pollock

People with voices that are EPIC:

* Patrick Stewart
* Tim Curry
* James Earl Jones
* Meat Loaf

Bands/artists that I feel obligated to hate but don't:

* My Chemical Romance
* The Jonas Brothers
* Linkin Park
* Celine Dion

You can add your own lists in the comments.

Maniacally,
Stephen

Facts of Life

  • A heap of sand consists of two or more grains.
  • "How are you?" is a stupid thing to ask if don't want to know how someone is.
  • High art is whatever you think it is.
  • 4′33″ is the greatest piece of music ever written.
  • And finally, I will never get to update my blog as often as I want to.

Merry Christmas everyone, sorry I haven't updated in forever.

MarsCon 2009

MarsCon is going to be here (well, not here, but you know what I mean) in two months and ten days and it is going to be awesome. I'm the opening act for the unnamed-as-far-as-I-know party room hosted by Beth Kinderman and The Player Characters which will be featuring music and music and I think that there might be some music there, I may or may not be co-hosting Radio Free Gallifrey with DJ Phoenix depending on whether or not there is going to be a concert at the time, and Mom just ordered this years fundraiser CD that features your's truly singing a bunch of stuff!

Also: I read Howl by Allen Ginsberg the other day and it reads like an overly verbose Worm Quartet lyric. Don't get me wrong, it's great poetry, it just gives me an odd "where have I seen this before?" feeling.

Something witty,
Stephen

P.S. Something nifty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I want a sticker!

Apparently, if you vote you get an "I voted sticker". Apparently, if you have an "I voted sticker" you can get free stuff. In various places around the country, an "I voted sticker" is sufficient currency for a free Chik-fil-a sandwich, free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, free coffee at Starbucks, free Krispy Kreme donuts, and free other stuff.

My mother, who did vote, was offered an "I voted sticker". She didn't accept it.

Now I have no excuse to go to Ben & Jerry's. Thanks a lot mom.

Being 12 sucks!

Stephen

PS I realize that all of my ice cream, sandwiches, and coffee are "free" to me. But now I don't have an enticement to get mom to go get them.

PPS I also realize that the purpose of voting is not to receive free stuff, and the historic importance of the 2008 election. But, being 12, the potential for free stuff offered a slightly more immediate incentive than the hope for a new president.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Creepy...

Halloween was a couple of days ago and in that spirit, here's a video that makes me glad I don't live in Australia:



Also: this was taken from a movie made for small children.

I'm glad that's over,

Stephen

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts for October

I bought a guitar, I will hopefully be good enough to actually play music within the next year. I have acquired some harmonica skill thanks to harptabs.com. I'm taking tap dance lessons. I'm trying to figure out whether or not House of Leaves will be worth reading. I haven't updated my blog in a month. I'm currently listening to The New Amsterdams and they're better than an emo band has any right to be.

What's new with you guys?

Stephen

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

September sound off....

I'm sorry that I haven't updated in the last couple of months, I was at my grandma's house (where the internet moves at a sloth's pace) in July and I was playing video games through most of August. I've been trying to relegate my random musings to my Livejournal, but it turns out that random musings were the backbone of my blog (seriously, go back, read the archives, and compare the number of random musings to other kinds of post), so I've decided to keep the musing about comedy music and video in my Livejournal and I'll post the other ramblings here.

On a completely unrelated note, I've been working on a comic strip that I will post on this very blog (y'know, as opposed to some other blog) just as soon as I figure out how.

Also: Dueling Banjos!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Proust for Everyone

I got this from the Occassional Superheroine blog.

The opportunity to talk about myself while simultaneously ripping off a blog I like? Sign me up!

1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Eternal nothingness.

2. Where would you like to live?
I don’t really care where I live, so long as I have internet access.

3. What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spontaneously acquiring tons of money and being able to live like The Addams Family.

4. To which faults do you feel most indulgent?
Procrastination.

5. Who is/are your favorite hero/heroes of fiction?
The Doctor, MacGyver, and Batman.

6. Who are your favorite characters in history?
Andy Warhol and Emperor Joshua Norton.

7. Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
The leaders of the feminist movement.

8. Who is/are your favorite heroine/heroines of fiction?
I think Metroid is a real cool guy, eh hunts monsters and doesn’t afraid of anything. More seriously, Chell from Portal, Captain Janeway of the starship Voyager, and Samus Aran from Metroid.

9. Your favorite painters?
Yves Tanguy, and Salvador Dali.

10. Your favorite composers or musicians?
In the interests of brevity, I’m just going to limit this list to musicians in my favourite stack (which also means only people whose CDs I own and am still in possession of the cases for). In no particular order, OK GO, Paul and Storm, Screeching Weasel, Beth Kinderman, Soggy Potato Chips, Carrie Dahlby, DJ Particle, ABBA, The Ramones, Dream Theater, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Tiny Tim, Cream, Buddy Holly, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, and Weezer.

11. Which qualities do you most value in a man?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

12. Which qualities do you most value in a woman?
Intelligence and a sense of humour.

13. Your favorite virtue?
Not taking oneself too seriously.

14. Your favorite occupation?
Professional nerd (i.e. indie musician).

15. Who would you have liked to be?
Myself.

16. Your most marked characteristic?
My sense of humour.

17. What do you most value in your friends?
I don’t have enough friends to know.

18. What is your principle defect?
I’m sometimes rude when I don’t mean to be, but that’s less my principle defect than my only one.

19. What is your favorite color?
Black.

20. What is your favorite flower?
The Orchid.

21. What is your favorite bird?
Penguins, for they are truly the Sinatra of birds.

22. Who are your favorite prose writers?
Douglas Adams, Norton Juster, Neil Gaiman, and Oscar Wilde.

23. Who are your favorite poets?
Shel Silverstein, Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, Patti Smith, and Alexander Pope.

24. What are your favorite names?
Yo-Yo Ma, Heidi Klum, and Wikipedia.

25. What is it you most dislike?
“Things I dislike” is too broad a category for me to pick just one thing.

26. What historical figure do you most despise?
That guy who shot John Lennon.

27. What event in military history do you most admire?
Britain standing against the Nazis during Word War II.

28. What reform do you most admire?
I don’t know enough about reforms to answer this question.

29. What natural gift would you most like to possess?
Naturally cool hair.

30. How would you like to die?
After having lived a good life, doing something worthwhile.

31. What is your present state of mind?
Happy.

32. What is your motto?
“Life is to short to waste your time thinking up stupid mottos, instead you should waste your time doing something else.”

Effectively wasting time elsewhere,

Stephen

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Truth and Consequences: Take 2

I like the song Nethack by Rob Balder. I request the song Nethack on my favourite Dementia Radio shows. A lot.

Through no fault of my own, Blasted Bill had a fight with Rob and won't play any of his songs, including Nethack.

Through some fault of my own (an none of DJ Phoenix's), DJ Phoenix has gotten tired of my requests and wants to play any song other than Nethack.

On a completely unrelated note, I suck at Nethack (the game not the song).

I have to get this under control before they stop playing Nethack on the Dementia Radio random cast too.

Or, before they ban me altogether!

If at first you don't succeed, perseverate.

Solidly on the spectrum,
Stephen



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Neurodiversity

I have been loosely following a debate between Autism experts and neurodiversity proponents. Essentially, the autism experts want to "cure autism" and rid the world of this disorder and its consequences while the neurodiversity proponents want to "celebrate atypical brain function as a positive identity, not a disability" (Solomon, 2008).

Education Week reporter, Christina Samuels, asked this question from an educator's perspective in her On Special Education blog:

What would that mean for educators, I wonder? "Anti-cure doesn't mean anti-progress," said one of the leaders of this movement, Ari Ne'eman. And a mother quoted in the story says that some of the treatments her son has undergone are a waste of time, and she'd like to see better services for him.

But Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, cautions against "romanticizing" and "trivializing" mental disorders. Children with autism are not merely shy loners, he says.

I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed. Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?


I don't usually take sides on these kinds of things, but here is my response:

"I think we can all get behind the idea of treating a child as something more than a bundle of defects that must be fixed."

Thank you. I agree wholeheartedly that I and children like me, are much more than the sum of our parts - and those parts are not deficient. Autism affects my personality but it is not a defect.

"Is the idea of neurodiversity and groups like the Autistic Self Advocacy Network moving too far in a direction that leads away from appropriate treatment?"

However, this question offends me. Neurodiversity isn't simply an idea or a proposed policy - it is an actual reflection of life as it is. Human beings ARE diverse. Physical differences, mental differences, emotional differences exist and play out in myriad ways. Neurodiversity is simply another manifestation of the human condition.

There is no appropriate discussion to be had on whether groups such as the Autism Self Advocacy Network are moving in the "right" direction. Self-advocacy is, by definition, defined by those who are advocating on their own behalf. No one outside the group has standing to determine what group members feel is important to advocate. As a member of the target class, I can tell you that advocating for acceptance of who I am, as I am, is incredibly important just as it is in any civil rights struggle.

My bias in this discussion is that I am a 12 year-old kid with Asperger's/autism. I am considered "highly functioning" and a gifted learner but I do struggle with functioning in society and social situations. I failed dismally in public education. Or rather, public education failed me.

I experienced little acceptance and no respect from the educators I encountered in public school. The emphasis in all of the IEPs, behavior modifications plans, and treatments ever written on my behalf were to make me and my behavior "normal". It was more important that I appear like everyone else than it was to help me understand social conventions and determine whether I needed/wanted to conform in any specific instance. Adults are generally given the opportunity to choose from among numerous avenues of acceptable behavior within society, but children are not. Children identified as special needs have even fewer options - their only goals are defined in terms of how well they meet norms, rather than how well they develop, grow, learn and expand as individuals.

I empathize with parents whose children cannot interact or function as a result of autism or other disorder. However, respect for differences and diversity not only offers a starting place for those children to grow, live, and thrive - it also opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for achievements and accomplishments that would not be possible for a neurotypical child.

"Appropriate treatment" is not possible unless and until educators adopt a policy of unfailing respect for the individual. Progress is more important than a cure. Acceptance of difference is more important than achieving normalcy. Tolerance is not good enough because it demands change or at least movement toward an external norm.

I deserve acceptance and respect as I am.


Stephen


TrackBacks:

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2008/06/neurodiversity.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=5033594&page=1
http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/

Monday, June 02, 2008

Yet another parody of "Still Alive"

Here are the lyrics to my new parody of Jonathan Coulton's Still Alive. I actually thought about writing Still a Nerd - but I thought that would be stupid. Now, of course, I've learned that Tom Smith wrote it anyway, I'm really glad I didn't do. I don't want to compete with Tom Smith!

So, without any ado at all, here are the lyrics to my new song:

This Song's not Funny by Gifted Gear:

This song’s not funny
I’m sorry, I tried, I did my best
It’s hard to overstate my frustration
With my lack of humour
The one joke I had just didn’t scan
And I’m sorry to report that even that joke was bad

So, I’m sitting here thinking about what I should write
I’ll just keep on trying if it takes me all night
I’ll find the right rhyme for a decent punch line
and upload this song onto the FuMP

Why am I trying?
Writing this song won’t make me rich
It’s not enough to bring me fame or fan girls
But, maybe an album
That could be just the start I need
But first I have to think of something funny to write

They say there is nothing new beneath the sun
All the jokes coming to mind have already been done
Nobody cares about the chicken or why he crossed the road
Because that joke is really, really old

Go ahead and say it

These jokes are lame and old and stale
I need to find a funny new perspective

I need something novel
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Who cares! It’s been done

Anyway the sun is up oh look at how the time flies

Here I am still talking, when there's more I should write
I’ve got nothing done although it took me all night
I’m running out of time and I still can’t find a rhyme
I guess it’s time that I give up!


This Song's not Funny is the first tune in my new rock opera. Code name: Faust for Dementites. A dude who wants to be a comedy singer sells his soul to the devil to be able to write the funniest songs ever. Some other stuff happens and then the dude challenges the devil to a "rock-off". I'm hoping for guest stars.... I'd love to hear Tom Smith cover Sympathy for the Devil as the villain-introduction song!

Humming 80's chords,
Stephen

Inane babblings...

It's Friday night... The Show With The Funny Name is over, I’m expecting to hear the Doctor Who theme...

What I heard was a techno remix of the Happy Days theme followed by Working For The Weekend by Loverboy. The sheer unexpectedness of this made it one of the funniest things ever. It turned out that it was actually an hour earlier than I thought it was, and that Mr. Tuesday now has a show on my favourite day of the week (that would be Friday, BTW). Now, more than ever, Friday is made of win!

I have a question for my more Dementia-savvy readers: Is the song Dear God by Worm Quartet a biting satire about the kind of people who pray about every little thing or is it just ShoEboX being weird? I mean, we are talking about the guy who wrote Pac-Man Is Naked And So Should You and Call Me Jennifer And Steal My Stapler. He’s also the guy wrote the excellent satirical songs C Is For Lettuce and What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like… so, yeah.

Another question for my readers: What would happen if an unstoppable force found an immovable object in it’s way?

Nightwish is going to be performing in Dallas in a couple of months, hopefully I’ll get to see them.

I went to see Iron Man and lo, it was good.

I wrote a song (well I parodied a song that Jonathan Coulton wrote, anyway), I just need to get some music for it and get it recorded and it shall be on the FuMP Sideshow in no time.

I’m trying a to start a podcast, but I need to find some software to record it on. Suggestions are welcome.

There’s a chance that I might get to go to Con On The Cob.

I shall, at some point in the semi-near future, start selling Gifted Gear t-shirts.

I’ve been drawing a comic strip, I just need to stop being lazy, scan them into the computer and post them on my blog.

So, anyway those were all the things I wanted to get out there, but didn’t think were worthy of a post all on their own.

And now: Bob Dylan






Um… yeah,

Stephen

Friday, May 09, 2008

Music - Part 2: This time it's personal...

I did a post on music a while back called "Music – Part 1" and I have yet to follow it up, so here is a listing of my favourite CDs and brief descriptions of them:

Disraeli Gears by Cream: Cream was sort of like a British version of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (the main difference being that Cream had the better guitarist and The Jimi Hendrix Experience had the better vocalist), they both have a very bluesy, rather psychedelic type sound. This CD also holds the title of "really great music to play video games to".

All of My Heroes Are Villains by Beth Kinderman: A rather nifty singer-songwriter-y kind of awesome. The song Valley is not to be missed, even if you don't have or don't plan on getting the album, go to www.bethkinderman.com and listen to the song, seriously, it's a great song (if a rather downbeat one).

In Stereo by Soggy Potato Chips: It is absolutely hilarious to listen to Alchav scream "headache, headache, headache, headache, headache, I've got a headache!" repeatedly; that says everything you need to know about Soggy Potato Chips.

Score by Dream Theatre: Progressive Rock as it should be, very loud and very energetic with all the long solos and nonsensical lyrics that make this genre so great.

The Velvet Underground and Nico by The Velvet Underground and Nico: A fun little record full of catchy and memorable songs. Also: a subject of controversy back in the days when sex and drugs weren't something you could hear about in every other song on the radio.

Shiny Round Thing Inside by DJ Particle: I don't think that saying that DJ Particle rocks like a rocking thing that rocks is accurate, I think it should be said that a rocking thing that rocks rocks like DJ Particle. In case you find the preceding sentence confusing, I'm saying that DJ Particle (and thus this CD) rocks.

The Blue Album by Weezer: Ah, Weezer, devotees of the ever-so-incredibly-awesome school of Cheap Trick-esque guitar pop, there isn't really much to be said about them except that they were a bright spot in the otherwise dingy world of the 90's mainstream music scene.

The Definitive Collection by ABBA: What am I supposed to say? It's ABBA, the greatest Pop group ever! If Elton John is the King of Pop, then ABBA were the King's royal advisors or something! In a word: they were great.

Happy Ranch by Carrie Dahlby: Carrie Dahlby, the only person to have successfully parodied both Simon and Garfunkel and Gilbert and Sullivan, the Dementia Smackdown women's champion, and generally really good at what she does.

Hunky Dory by David Bowie: Essentially David Bowie's singer-songwriter album, there is the one rocker on this album, but it's mostly acoustic. As an aside I would like to mention Bowie's Bright Orange Mullet of Doom that he wears on the cover and in the pictures in the liner notes, I have nothing to say about it, I would just like to point out that he's wearing a bright orange mullet. Also: I think "Bright Orange Mullet of Doom" would make a great name for a Worm Quartet song.

Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention: This is one of those albums that can be divided into two roughly equal halves, in this case the halves consist of a bunch of off-beat pop songs on one half and a bunch of freaky, experimental songs on the other half; I bought it for the freaky, experimental half, but I kept listening more for the catchy, popish half.

Live! At The Royal Albert Hall by Tiny Tim: The easiest way to describe this album: everything great about Pop music rolled in one Incredibly awesome package.

So there you have it, my favourite CDs and, more importantly, an excuse to title a post "Music – Part 2: This Time It's Personal"

Clever Signoff,

--Stephen

P.S. I would like to point out that the word "awesome" is, in most modern contexts, a lot funnier when you think of it's original meaning which described something that "instills one with a sense of awe". Now you know why I use the word "awesome" so much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The most important person in the world - A MarsCon Report

Here is the report from my first ever MarsCon!!! (The best birthday present EVER!)


Day One


I volunteered for a bit. Worked 3.5 hours at the Consuite and Registration. It was pretty fun. I got to talk to people. It’s a little like stalking without scaring people. For example, I share a birthday with Carrie Dahlby. Didn’t know that. I got to see all of the people I know of from the “dementia scene” – Luke Ski, Carrie Dahlby, Hot Waffles (and Tim’s Banjo), Tak, Alchav and Kristi, Eric Coleman, Beth Kinderman, Jared Ringold, Bill Putt, and I’m sure there were others. If being in the presence of the “cool people” and talking to some of them wasn’t enough - I got a cool shiny button from the Martian Militia. (PS Since I don’t have my own stuff to sell yet, everybody go to these people’s websites and buy something!)


I ran into Alchav downstairs in the hotel and he invited me to the Dementia Dinner. Bill was taking pictures in the lobby and having people dance for his own amusement – there may be a video of me out there somewhere dancing like a fool because Bill Putt said to. Dinner was fun – although completely inexplicable to someone who wasn’t there. I sat with CRoses, ameangirl (not a typo or commentary on her personality – just her badge name), DJ Particle, and DJ Phoenix. Eric Coleman and Davroz rotated through my table. The food was pretty good – I ate fettucini alfredo four nights in a row. And the servers were very tolerant if somewhat slow. Half of the servers looked somewhat scared whenever they had to approach our group. The others seemed to be having fun.


I attended Opening Ceremonies. There was a skit. Skits are okay. It wasn’t Monty Python. But nothing is. I had to do several skits for Boy Scouts. I liked the Opening Ceremonies skit better – it had video game characters. Yay Pac-Man!


Between Opening Ceremonies and the first dementia concerts, I did the only non-comedy music programming I attended all weekend. I had to show up – it was my idea and I was on the panel. “How to Survive the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse.” Props to Kevin and Brian. They really did all of the hard work with the movie reviews and the power point presentation. I got to play middle ground, ask questions, sit up front, and pantomime zombie attacks. All fun! I had no idea what to expect or how it would go, but I really liked it. I think it went pretty well. I couldn’t have hosted it by myself. Oh and I got a new book for my reading list – The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. Mostly I got to wear my very cool Night of the Living Dead t-shirt. w00t!


The Dementia Track concerts:

The first night of concerts featured Beth Kinderman, Eric Coleman, Worm Quartet, and The Gothcicles.


Beth Kinderman is not all that demented. She has a geeky singer-song writer acoustic vibe (sort of like Jonathan Coulton). She is, however, awesome. Very awesome. My favorite Beth Kinderman song is Valley.


Eric Coleman sounds like what I’ll probably sound like when I grow up. He stops his songs occasionally to talk, make pithy comments, be funny, have side bars. The odd thing is I usually stop my pithy comments to sing…. I actually didn’t recognize him until he started singing The Only Coffee House in Town. I was so glad we didn’t skip his concert. He was great.


As if I didn’t have enough proof that my parents are cool, my mom sat with me through a whole Worm Quartet concert. Worm Quartet is… Worm Quartet is…. Worm Quartet is not for the faint of heart. It would be too easy to describe Worm Quartet as a guy with a mullet screaming over pre-recorded synthesizer tracks. However, proof does exist that beyond being extremely funny and profane (and awesome!) – ShoEboX can actually sing well. My favorite song was What Your Parents Think All Your Music Sounds Like. However, I was not allowed to get the button. Just because mom would tolerate the insanity – doesn’t mean she’ll let me take the insanity home with me.


Then there are The Gothcicles. Again, their show was awesome. Their music was awesome. It was late at night though. I am supposed to be asleep by 10 p.m. I saw about half of the concert but I missed their performance with Sudden Death.


I finally calmed down enough to fall asleep around 1:30 a.m. What a blast of a day!!!


Day Two

Breakfast at the hotel was pretty bad. If it hadn’t been free – I doubt that I would have forced myself to eat any of it. Don’t get me wrong. Unlimited free bacon is hardly ever a bad thing (see Bacon!, below). But, I do like my breakfast bacon with other edibles.


Saturday was pretty slow until the concerts started. We looked around the dealer’s room. There were a lot of things my sister would have liked… a bunch of shiny stuff, a Luke Ski album here and there, and some Star Trek memorabilia. Ok, it was stuff I would have liked. But I was saving my money for CDs.


The Dementia Concerts (part 2)

Rob Balder, Sudden Death, Paul and Storm, Possible Oscar, and Hot Waffles (with Tim’s Banjo) performed on Saturday.


Rob Balder gave an outstanding performance. He opened with my mom’s favorite song Always a Goth Chick to Me. ‘Twas Awesome. ‘Twas very, very awesome. During the song Give It Away he threw CDs into the audience. I didn’t get one – but it was still a great set. I also liked the new prop. Rob Balder looks interesting in pink kitty ears. Who knew? The only thing I didn’t like was that he didn’t play Nethack, but the ears nearly made up for it.


Sudden Death was terrific as usual. He did all of my favorites. It was a little disturbing when nateboi took off his t-shirt, but that wasn’t Devo Spice’s fault really. I was hoping other fans (girls) would follow suit – but they tell me I’m too young for that.


Paul and Storm. They were amazing. I had only heard about half of their songs before the concert, so I really enjoyed listening to them. I bought their album because Jonathan Coulton called in the middle of their set and told me to, but I would have anyway. Really.


Possible Oscar had some difficulties getting set up and started. It seemed to bother them a lot more than it bothered me. But then, I’m a fan. Talk Nerdy to Me will always be one of my favorites.


Hot Waffles were the musical Guests of Honor. Tim’s Banjo did a really good job, but Chris’s bass had some technical difficulties. So much so that all future technical difficulties were referred to as “Chris Waffle moments.” Tim and Chris were really great. I wish that all of the dementia artists had an hour or more to perform – but I felt like Hot Waffles really put together a good show and I really enjoyed it.


I met Tak (from Revenge of the Particle) after the concerts. She made my day by telling me that I made her “sucktacular” Friday better. She is undefeated on Dementia Smackdown (the wrestling promotion and not the MarsCon event) – and always will be in my heart!


I didn’t do too much after the concerts. I was hungry and tired and mom wasn’t sure that the 13th floor was a good place for me to hang out. So, we went to the Prime Rib Buffet in the hotel restaurant and then hung out in our suite. Mostly, I played on the computer and tried to find Dementia Smackdown.


Day Three

Another day, another bad hotel breakfast. At least it was free and had bacon.


The most important thing (for me) was the Dementia Fan Showcase. I was disappointed that DJ Particle didn’t get to do more songs. I originally signed up for the fan showcase specifically because I heard that DJ Particle was going to sing. But, give me an audience and a microphone and I will always sing (as DJ Phoenix learned to her detriment) whether I know the song or not. I got to perform covers of Always a Goth Chick to Me and My Cat is Afraid of the Vacuum Cleaner (which I usually do in harmony with my sister) – with Power Salad in the room listening!!! Yay me. I also got to sing with DJ Phoenix and play fanboy for CRoses. This is the stuff dreams are made of! Everyone was great – Alchav, BreakmanZ, Bill and Davroz, and all the others whose names I don’t know. I only wish I had brought the camcorder so everyone could experience the awesomeness. Next year I will (may?) debut a Gifted Gear original.


Dementia Track Concerts (Part 3):

Art Paul Schlosser, Carrie Dahlby, Power Salad, and the great Luke Ski performed before the Dementia Smackdown (which is not quite the same thing as the wrestling promotion of the same name).


Art Paul Schlosser may be my new favorite dementia artist – if only because he let me go up on stage with him and sing I like my Mother. As I said before, give me an audience and a microphone…..


Carrie Dahlby is one of the main reasons I went to MarsCon. (She's so pretty) She performed with her dad – which I thought was really cool.


Power Salad sang to me. I AM the most important person in the world, you know. He really performs a wild show.


What can I say about the great Luke Ski? He’s another reason I went to MarsCon. He’s a great performer, but I am sorry to report that he is not quite as pretty as Carrie Dahlby. Since he has his own cheering squad, I hope it won’t hurt him for me to say that. My favorite Luke Ski song was Holding Out for Hiro.


A review of the Dementia Smackdown performances wouldn’t be complete without a retelling of all the in-jokes and off-the-cuff remarks. Unfortunately, I can’t possibly replay all of the funny moments here (although I wish I could). Basically, all of the artists did covers, tributes, and lampoons of the other artists’ performances. I will never forget Wyngarde’s performance as the magical Pegasus…


The yolk’s on you,

Stephen


PS I arrived a day early (Thursday) and left a day late (Monday) – but nothing exciting happened.

Here's the thing....

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. At least since December when mom said I should write it. It is a review of my experience in undergoing a recent autism evaluation. I’ll admit that it is MUCH more fun to write about MarsCon, the FuMP, Dementia Radio, and all things geeky. And, I’ll get back to those things but this is important too. Especially since it directly reflects my experiences on the Autism Spectrum and my opinions about how I am perceived and treated in the world. And mom said so.


In December, I began a two month process of re-evaluation with a developmental pediatrician who specializes in Autism. I did this for one reason, and one reason only; my parents made me. My first evaluations were done overseas in a Department of Defense elementary school by educators and psychologists. To say that my parents and I found it to be seriously lacking in value is an understatement.


You might think that because we’re from Oregon and I attend a virtual school from home that my parents are more than a little bit alternative – granola, as they say. Nothing could really be further from the truth.


My parents have specific philosophical, political, and cultural values that challenge the existing status quo in parenting and education (see Against School by John Taylor Gatto for one example of what they talk about), but they are really so normal it’s not funny. My sister goes to a public school, Mom was a state-level PTA president, and my dad works for the government. Subversive we are not. Different, maybe. I’ve mentioned before that the series The Big Bang Theory is my life in fast forward.


Anyway….

I began the evaluation with Dr. H in December. It wasn’t really all that exciting – I sat in the room and was asked questions by different people. Dr. H did a physical exam and then on other visits I took IQ tests, and reading tests, and comprehension tests, and performed like a good little monkey. Then, in late January, Dr. H sat with my parents and told them what she had decided about me.


First, I think it’s stupid to evaluate whether someone is on the autistic spectrum if they are not incapacitated by it. Second, I don’t feel that my autism is a disability. I prefer the term disorder to disability (although neither is accurate). Lack of order isn’t necessarily bad for us out of the box thinkers, but lack of ability is unnecessarily limiting. And not true. I feel that I should be evaluated as a person (if at all). Dr. H did not get this. She was specifically not interested in actually having a conversation with me. She definitely didn’t get my jokes.


Dr. H: What are your flaws?

Me: Oh, I’m an egotist. But, of course I have every reason to be because I’m perfect in every way.

Dr. H: Are you kidding?

Me: No, I’m serious. Why would I joke about something like this?


Of course, this was immediately reported to my parents as indicative of my extreme social disability. None of the people who try to understand me and fail get my jokes. Coincidence, I think not. My level of sarcasm and deadpan delivery completely flew over her head – even when my parents said that they were sure I was joking. Note for my future doctors – just because I say I’m serious doesn’t mean that I am.


To paraphrase Will Smith’s character in Hitch – 60% of human communication is body language and 30% is in your tone. Only 10% comes from the words you actually say. Ironically, one of the basic traits that identifies people on the autism spectrum is their inability to correctly interpret social cues. I’ll admit that I have some trouble with this. I’m good with sarcasm, but sometimes I am rude when I don’t mean to be. However, Dr. H missed my social cues completely.


Another trait that Dr. H focused on was my lack of desire to please her or any of the other testers. Well, duh. Why would I? I don’t really care what she thinks of me. I told her this, but she didn’t take me seriously (as opposed to taking me quite seriously when I was, in fact, joking). Apparently there is something in the “normal” human experience that makes people willing to classify others as being superior to or in authority over them – and makes them want to please them. Thanks, I’ll skip that part. Some people are superior to or have authority over me – but they had to earn it!!! It certainly isn’t something I accept from others merely because they are taller or older or have more degrees than me. (There is a whole other topic that I could bring up here regarding people who feel they must bully or otherwise coerce children and the weak into respecting them – but I’ll save that for a rant on why people become teachers…). ((I wouldn’t keep taking cheap shots if other people didn’t make it so darn easy!!!))


Dr. H is very invested in “normal” - like many other medical professionals and educators I know. I always wonder whether they have so much trouble being “normal” themselves that they must become an expert on the subject. If “normal” means being neurotypical, I’m not all that interested. So what if my best ever social experience ever was MarsCon… (MarsCon was awesome, by the way! More later…). So what if my idea of success and interaction defies the “normal” herd mentality. I define success as doing what you love and being able to support yourself with it. That does not require that I go to mainstream school, major in business at an Ivy-league college, or work as a drone in any capacity.


So here is my review (an evaluation evaluation, as it were) of Dr. H and the recent bout of autism-related testing I underwent. Dr. H and her staff seemed nice. She made more of an effort to understand me than most people do. If you have reason to hire a developmental pediatrician in south Texas, she’s good – probably better than most. She may or may not be higher on the autism spectrum than I am. But, don’t expect her to understand or validate any attempt to defy the expectations of “normal.” She is the expert after all.


Bleh,

Stephen

Monday, February 18, 2008

Da da dah

The first day of International Dadaism Month was on February 4. I was planning to deviate from the norm and actually post something for International Dadaism Month but, obviously, I didn’t make it. So, unless you want to wait for the second day of International Dadaism Month (April 1st) -- here’s my post.

My birthday is on February 22nd, which just happens to be the day that Dementia Wrestling (more on that in a bit) is running their winter Click-Per-View. I’m going to be presenting at a science fiction convention (more on that in a bit too). Also, I discovered an awesome new (for me) band, so all in all, life is going pretty well!

I am really excited to be going to the science fiction convention in a few weeks. This one has a really good Dementia track. Dementia is comedy music, derived from Dr. Demento, which is the entire reason that I’m going… That, and the fact that I’m hosting a discussion on how to survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse. In addition to the fact that I’m presenting at a major event, I’m getting this really nice Night Of The Living Dead movie poster shirt to wear to the convention. Yes, I am flying from Texas (where it’s always too hot, even in midwinter) up north to where (according to My Mother, Jeff Foxworthy, and every Weather prediction I’ve bothered to read) it is incredibly cold in the dead of winter. No. I am not crazy. No. I do not plan on leaving the hotel. Yes. I realize that flying across the country to listen to a bunch of singers that almost nobody outside of the comedy music cult (which, by the way, is not a literal cult) has ever heard of makes me a humongous nerd. And, no. I don’t care.

I found a really nifty internet show called Dementia Smackdown which, essentially, consists of videogame characters that look like my favourite singers beating each other up. It’s really awesome! There’s also Dementia Raw which features videogame characters who, I assume, look like my favourite comedy DJs (I don’t know, because the only ones I’ve actually seen are the ones who are also singers) beating each other up. It’s like professional wrestling, but with 80% less talking and 108% more nerdiness! Having said all this, I should probably provide you guys with a link or four: go to hosted.filefront.com/DementiaSmackdo for the show and to www.thefump.com, www.consortiumofgenius.com, and www.dementiaradio.org for the music that the show was based on.

In other news, Weezer has replaced They Might Be Giants (who, in turn, replaced Queen) as my favourite band. I think I might have signed up for a few too many newsletters when I get six to ten emails a day from people I’ve never met personally. I have officially decided to scale back my webcomics reading from the 50 I had been reading to around 5. Greek and The Big Bang Theory (which, contrary to popular belief, is NOT based on my life) will both be back on TV soon on account of the Writers’ Strike ending. The Samurai vs. Vikings battle is still undecided.

And now: Grand Funk Railroad!




Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Music (Part 1)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Whatever-other-holidays-happened-in-the-last-two-weeks! Since new year’s resolution seem to be something of a tradition, I’m resolving to post more regularly. Now that holiday greetings and new year’s resolutions are out of the way, on to the post!

Music, everyone has their own opinion about which types are better. I personally have the same philosophy about music that I have about food, try (almost) everything at least once, there will be some stuff that makes you sick, some stuff that smells horrible, and some stuff that you just don’t like, but if you can sift through the bad stuff there will be lots of really good stuff. Take the heavy metal genre for example, there’s tons of bad metal out there (in fact, there’s several subgenres worth of it, death metal anyone?), but if you look, there also happens to be bands like Blind Guardian (some people don’t like Blind Guardian, but that’s my example and I’m sticking with it) who have great songwriting ability and a vocalist who can actually sing. It’s weird how music has all that variety and most people are only familiar with one or two parts of it.

Music is one of those things I don’t think I could live without (it’s right up there with food and a good supply of books (that is to say, a supply of good books)). I kind of ran out of things to say, so… see you next time!

Stephen