Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mr. Fob, Costume Designer

As you can imagine, it makes me quite the proud father to hear my four-year-old daughter tell me she wants to be Supergirl for Halloween. We actually made the cape and shield for Halloween two years ago, when the costume was more my idea than hers, but this time we managed to get a more traditional Supergirl look with a blue shirt from the Gap and a red holiday skirt from Children's Place. We probably could have tracked down red boots instead of getting another pair of sparkly red Target shoes, as rain boots are much easier to find in Seattle than in Orem, but she already has a pair of rain boots so we decided the sparkly shoes were not only cheaper but more practical.

Little Dude's Robin costume, which I admit was more my idea than his, is not quite so true to the source material, but Robin's costume has varied so much over the years that I felt justified in going with a more liberal interpretation that takes elements from all of them. We tried to find green tights, but ended up settling for black, which made everyone think he was one of the Incredibles. Oh well. I think he makes a pretty good Robin.

My costume is a variation of the costume I've used almost every year for the last five or six years--in the past I've been Clark Kent, so this year I decided to be Bruce Wayne. It gave me an excuse to buy a really cool Bat-symbol t-shirt, and like the Clark Kent costume it has the advantage of being a little subtler than a full-on superhero costume. A touch I added this year--a clever touch, if I do say so myself--is the cape hanging out the back of Bruce Wayne's shirt. No one ever gets it, to be honest; they tend to think I'm just too embarrassed to take off my normal clothes and show off my costume, or they don't notice it at all. That's okay, though. I like it.

It's a Small Gay Mormon World

A month or so ago I cataloged an anime movie called Akira. For some reason about half of the voice actors in the English dub of Akira use pseudonyms here that they pretty much don't use anywhere else. One of those is a guy credited as Jimmy Flinders, who IMDb says is really Cam Clarke. At the time I cataloged the video I checked the Library of Congress's Name Authority File and found no record for Jimmy Flinders and only one record with the name Cam Clarke. In the citation for that record Clarke is listed as the illustrator of a picture book adaptation of Carol Lynn Pearson's My Turn on Earth, which I thought was an interesting coincidence (because I happen to have seen that particular cornerstone of 70s Mormon pop culture), but also took as evidence that the Cam Clarke in LC's NAF was not my Cam Clarke aka Jimmy Flinders, voice actor for everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to He-Man: Master of the Universe.

So I set aside the info on Mr. Clarke until this week, when I finished the training that authorized me to create my own name authority records to be put into LC's file. As I did research in order to create a record for my Cam Clarke, though, I came across this Wikipedia article, which says that Clarke is best known in Latter-day Saint circles as the original "Jimmy Flinders," one of the lead characters of the other cornerstone of 70s Mormon pop culture, Saturday's Warrior. So he was Mormon, after all!

Then I came across this CD that Clarke recorded in the 90s, a collection of popular love songs recast from a gay perspective. Clarke, as it turns out, is a gay Mormon. (By which I mean that he has identified as gay for at least part of his life and he at least grew up Mormon, but I don't presume to say anything about his current identity in terms of the two things.)

He is also the stepbrother of Lex de Azevedo, popular LDS musician, which makes him the uncle of Rachel Coleman, the creator of Signing Time, a DVD series that S-Boogie watched nearly every day of the first two years of her life and of which Little Dude is now a devoted fan.

So I still don't know that voice actor/singer/gay Mormon Cam Clarke is the same as picture book illustrator Cam Clarke, but I do know that the former is related to Lex de Azevedo, who wrote the score for My Turn on Earth, and it's not unlikely that gay Mormon Clarke has some connection to Carol Lynn Pearson, the matron saint of gay Mormons everywhere. So I suspect the two are one and the same. I've emailed Mr. Clarke to ask him to clarify the issue, so hopefully he'll be kind enough to respond.

What I do know that I didn't know yesterday morning is this:

1. Leonardo is a gay Mormon.

2. He-Man is a gay Mormon.

(Apologies to L for the provocative pictures.)

I can't imagine anyone being very surprised about He-Man being gay. I mean really, all the man wears is furry underwear. Leonardo is a bit of surprise, as I would have suspected it first of his brother Donatello, but hey, for all I know, all four of them are. But it certainly never occurred to me that either He-Man or Leonardo might be Mormon. I'll tell you one thing for sure: neither of them went to BYU dressed like that.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Angry No More

I have been rather tense over the last few days since FoxyJ saw Holly Welker's (I'm not feeling the need to 'nym her tonight) name on the table of contents of the latest issue of Sunstone. I was imagining the horrible things Holly (I consider us to be on a first-name basis because she only uses her first name on her blog, which is where I first met her) might have said about me, writing a letter to the editors in my head, brushing up on laws pertaining to libel. I was prepared for the worst--if you can call feeling sick to my stomach "prepared."

(BTW, Foxy got a free copy of the issue because there is a very cute picture of her in graduate garb, holding S-Boogie, on the back cover.)

So now I've read the essay and my hands have stopped trembling. As it turns out, the essay is well-written and really quite interesting. Holly argues in favor of same-sex marriage, but she reframes it not as a gay rights issue but a womens' issue. I like this new perspective on a topic that has long been important to me--the LDS Church's campaign against same-sex marriage during the elections of 2004 was in fact one of my first major points of departure with the Church--and I think Holly states her case eloquently. I particularly enjoy the points in the essay when she reminds her readers (and perhaps herself, as most of the essay focuses on gay men) that gay does not exclusively refer to men. All too often in discourse about homosexuality, whether in religious or legal contexts, lesbians are all but ignored. More than anything, Holly's essay in this latest issue of Sunstone has reminded me of something I managed to recognize last year (though I only now realize that in the post linked here I referred to her as "Molly Welker"), even in the midst of her attacks on my character--behind all the vitriol and misandry, she's really a very talented writer.

The real question here, at least as far as Mr. Fob the Narcissist is concerned, is: Does Holly make me look bad? The answer: Yeah, probably. But she doesn't do it at the expense of her point, and she doesn't say anything untrue about me. She interprets several things I said--both in "Getting Out" and on her blog--differently than I intended them, but as strictly textual interpretations they're perfectly valid.

That said, I don't feel bad about my angry post from the other night. Not in the slightest. In the context of her vehemence, my reaction was more than justified and even polite in comparison, as a handful of impartial observers have assured me. Holly is a talented writer and she is perfectly capable of critiquing my writing without attacking my character, as she has shown in this latest essay. Had she done so on her blog, I would not have been so "flummoxed and outraged," as she pretty accurately sums up how I felt upon finding her blog last year. It's not just a matter of not hurting people's feelings, either; the causes Holly fights for are good ones, and she'll gain much more ground by presenting herself as the intelligent, articulate woman she is rather than as a babbling man-hater.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does This Ring Make Me Look Straight?

Thanks to Tito over at Northern Lights for pointing out this fascinating article on MSN. It's about people who identify as gay or lesbian but have found themselves falling in love and in relationships with people of the opposite sex. While that is not exactly my situation--I was in the straight relationship before I completely accepted a gay identity--I relate to most of what the people in the article say.

For example:
[Says] Tricia Johnson, 31, from Philadelphia, "When I first went out publicly with my current boyfriend, I wanted to stand up and say, ‘This isn’t what it looks like! I’m not really straight!’ In my heart, I was starting to wonder who and what I actually was. I felt totally out at sea.”
Particularly after making a bigger deal of coming out than I was comfortable with while FoxyJ and I were separated, I find myself feeling very self-conscious of the wedding band on my finger lately. What will my friends think? Will they assume I've joined the ex-gay camp? Will they think I've become (or gone back to being) a repressed closet freak? Or will they think I just pretended to be gay in some insane attempt to get attention?
“I felt like a traitor,” says Daniel Wright, 32, from Los Angeles. “I thought, ‘I am going to lose my friends, and I’m going to lose my community.’ It was like coming out all over again.” And it may indeed be hard for your gay friends to accept your new relationship. Dr. Schecter says, “In general, the gay and lesbian community is a minority community. It fights hard to be treated equally. There is strength in numbers, and any potential loss of a member of the community is threatening.” There might also be a perception that a person who enters a heterosexual relationship has taken the “easy way out.”
When Foxy and I got back together, I was especially nervous about telling my gay friends. Despite my fears, though, I'm happy to say that every one of them responded with love and encouragement. My friends, regardless of their orientation or political values, are happy so long as I'm happy. Perhaps I'd do well to follow their example in the way I perceive myself.
Telling family members about your new relationship can have complications of its own, particularly if they were not accepting of your gay identity. Samantha Lewis, 37, from Providence, RI, says, “The religious members of my family were ecstatic. They never fully accepted me for who I was. It was just another slap in the face.”
I felt this too after announcing Foxy's and my reunification. I was wary of overly-zealous expressions of congratulations because, happy as I was to be back with my wife, I read the well-meaning felicitations of my more conservative family and friends as signs that they had been waiting on the edges of their seats for me to come to the light and realize I'd never be happy as a gay man. This turned what should have felt like feelings of victory into feelings of defeat. I can't honestly blame the family or friends who were sincerely happy for me, though--it's me who chooses to interpret everything as judgment, who sets up a false binary wherein one of us is the victor and the other defeated.
As a gay person in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you might struggle to find an appropriate label. Does this mean that you’re straight or bisexual? Can you be dismissed as a “hasbian” or “yestergay”? In the end, your identity is something that only you can define. Dr. Schecter says, “There are people who retain lesbian identity while in a committed relationship with a man. Others do not. Identity is shaped by individual meaning.” Your current situation also does not invalidate your past relationships or mean that you are or were “going through a phase.” Tricia Johnson says, “I struggled for so long with what to call myself. Eventually I thought why do I have to have a label? My experience is more complex than a single word.”
Labels? Me? Never. Say what you want to about the inadequacy of labels, but it's a natural human tendency to name things and to group together things that have shared qualities. It also happens to be a natural human tendency upon which my chosen career is based. What do you do, then, when there is no name, when all the available names seem to describe things that share some of your qualities, but not all of them? Either you reject the human tendency to label as futile and destructive, or you make a new label. I've opted for the latter approach. While transorientation may never catch on outside the realm of this blog, I maintain that it's a healthy step in my process of navigating largely uncharted territory, and I suspect that some of my fellow travelers described in this MSN article would benefit from a similar addition to their ideological lexicon.

At any rate, it's good, as always, to be reminded that FoxyJ and I are not alone in this.

100 1_ |a Fob, |c Mr., Master of the Universe, |d 1979-

400 0_ |a Mr. Fob, |d 1979-
400 1_ |a Fob, |c Master, |d 1979-
500 1_ |a Christensen, Ben, |d 1979-
670 __ |a His Possible topics of this post,, 25 Oct. 2007 |b (Mr. Fob; after finishing authority training will become master of the universe); sidebar (Ben Christensen; Seattle, WA; author of Getting out/Staying in)
670 __ |a His Self-demastery,, 25 Oct. 2007 |b (Mr. Fob; formerly known as Master Fob)
670 __ |a Personal interview with B. Christensen, 25 Oct. 2007 |b (Benjamin Glade Christensen; uses Ben Christensen in print publications, Mr. Fob online; b. 3 Nov. 1979 in Honolulu, HI)

Proof I Might Really Be a Misogynist After All

I cannot, for the life of me, button FoxyJ's backwards-buttoning shirts. I ended up leaving them unbuttoned on the hanger.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Return of the Angry Feminist

Next weekend is my birthday. It will also be another anniversary--one year since the morning I was bored at work, Googling myself, and came across the Angry Feminist, who had blogged a couple times in response to my essays in Dialogue and once in response to mine and FoxyJ's appearance in the Salt Lake Tribune. The gist of her blog posts was that I am a misogynist because I dared to marry a woman and that Foxy is a stupid brainwashed cow because she married a gay man. I had come across quite a few tactless comments about us on the internet before then, but these attacks by the Angry Feminist were colder, more thought out, and more personal than any of the others. This was clearly a woman who had issues with me, and I'd never even heard of her. I commented on her blog in my defense, and it all went downhill from there.

I would feel bad about caricaturing this woman with an offhand blogonym like "the Angry Feminist," but truthfully she fell into the realm of self-parody when she started using stock phrases from her 1963 edition of The Angry Feminist Handbook like "male defender of patriarchy." That and, believe me, there are much worse things I could call her (and believe me, I do).

I spent much of the months following my discovery of her attacks and our ensuing comment war trying to figure out why I was so bothered by this random stranger's critique of me. Seriously, even now, a year later, my hands get shaky just thinking about it.

Tolkien Boy suggested at one point that perhaps I reacted so violently because somewhere deep inside me I believed her accusations. Was it possible that I believed I really was a misogynist? It would make for a nice, tidy explanation, but the more I thought about it the more I knew it wasn't true. My parents divorced when I was four and my brother went to live with my father when I was nine, leaving me with my mom and various combinations of my five older sisters, so I was basically raised by women. I have long believed in feminist ideals of equality and subversion of the status quo--though admittedly not so much in feminist ideals of Men Are Evil Scumbags and Should Be Subjugated To Make Up For Centuries of [their ancestors'] Male Aggression, but then most feminists nowadays are more rational than that. I wouldn't call myself a literary feminist because I haven't researched the theories beyond the representative excerpts found in the textbooks read by the average English major, but when push comes to shove I have always identified with--and defended--the feminine experience more than the masculine. It comes with the territory of being a gay man in what is still largely (and unfortunately) a straight man's world.

I concluded eventually that what threatened me about the Angry Feminist's accusations was that what she called misogyny I saw as narcissism. Yes, to be honest, I do all too often think of my needs before I think of Foxy's; but it has nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman and everything to do with the fact that she's not me. And I really don't like that about myself, so I'm not crazy about being called on it.

And then there's the fact that many of the Angry Feminist's arguments were so inherently illogical, which drove me crazy. She accused me, for example, of invoking the name of feminism in my essays without first doing my research. But see, the only thing I mentioned--and briefly, at that--was "women's liberation movements," which Angry Feminist snarkily pointed out to me is not the same as feminism, as if I were the one to equate the two. And then she had the gall to make all sorts of wacky accusations about me based on assumptions she was pulling out of her butt, rather than doing her own research. I mean, we're talking about really basic stuff here, facts I even mentioned to her, like that I was no longer Mormon, and yet she persisted in saying that I was benefiting from the patriarchal system of the Mormon priesthood and making bad jokes about me getting my temple garments all twisted in a knot. Or her equally bad joke about me living in Orem in order to be around closed-minded people like myself, when a cursory glance at my blog (which was linked from every comment I made on her blog, and sported a picture of Seattle's skyline at the time, in addition to the location prominently displayed under my name) would have told her otherwise. How dare you accuse me of not doing my research, you lazy snob?

What really bugged me, though, and it bothers me that it's taken me nearly a year to consciously recognize this, is that on top of her attacks on my character, she was attacking one of the most important people to me and attempting to strip her of what makes her who she is. Suggesting that only a stupid cow brainwashed by religion would marry a gay man is not only incredibly insulting (and, by the way, misogynistic), it's simply untrue. Foxy has a master's degree in Spanish and is currently applying to (and will probably be accepted by) PhD programs at Oregon, Davis, and Berkeley. She presents papers at feminist conferences on women's literature. She's brought to light, through her translation work, obscure Renaissance women's writings. Sure, Angry Feminist, if you bothered to learn any of this you could claim that these are all superficial signs of intelligence, that any idiot can get a degree. If that's the case, though, I'm afraid you've lost the only proof of your intelligence, as it sure doesn't show in your rational thinking skills.

So at any rate, I wasn't too happy this afternoon when FoxyJ told me that the latest issue of Sunstone Magazine has an article written by the Angry Feminist and which appears to be an adaptation of her presentation at last year's Sunstone Symposium, which by the way was dedicated to insulting me and Foxy. We'll find out when we get our copy, but I'm hoping that someone on the editorial board at Sunstone had the class to say, "Hey, Ms. Feminist, you've got some interesting ideas here, but slander really isn't in our mission statement, so could you maybe cut back on the haterism? Because honestly, redirecting the anger you have toward your gay ex-fiance at some other guy, then dressing it up in the rhetoric of literary feminism, does not equal scholarship. And it's not very empowering to women."

We can only hope. If that's not the case, you'll hear more from me--and FoxyJ, who has been publicly silent about this all so far, but is just as pissed off as I am.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An Open Letter to the Mindless Masses

Dear Masses,

I had an idea tonight.

What if, instead of everyone in America being football fans, we varied things up a bit? You know, some people could be into football and others could be into lacrosse and others could be into scuba diving and others could be into Parcheesi? Then maybe, just maybe, every time there's a stupid football game at stupid Husky Stadium they wouldn't have to close all the stupid streets I need to get to my stupid home! (Wait, scratch that last stupid.) And then, while we're at it, maybe we could get some funding at our universities for programs besides football--maybe, I don't know, something remotely related to education?

I dunno. Just an idea.


Mr. Fob

Friday, October 19, 2007

Support a Good Cause--It Only Takes 30 Seconds!

I am starting an online petition to make online petitions illegal. I'm doing this mainly because online petitions are stupid and no online petition in the history of online petitions has ever accomplished anything. As you can see below, I've already gotten several people to sign my petition, and you know that they're real people who really support this cause because their names are printed on an electronic form and no one would be devious enough to just write random names on an electronic form. What you need to do, dear reader, is copy this entire post into an email, add your name, and forward it to everyone in your address book, because of course everyone in your address book supports all the same social and political causes you do and absolutely loves to get online petitions forwarded from you. Then, magically, all the variant forms of this petition floating around in email land will make it back to me, and I'll compile the list of redundant names and forward it to my state representative, who will in turn have no choice but to concede to the authority of the online petition. Thank you for taking time to support this noble cause.

1. Ben Christensen
2. Mr. Fob
3. Joe Schmoe
4. John Doe
5. Janet Jackson
6. Your Mom
7. Humphrey Bogart
8. Bruce Wayne

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Possible Topics of This Post

  • How neglecting to blog and to reply to emails has the positive effect of giving me more time to write but also the negative effect of making my inbox feel lonely.
  • How I realized tonight that Dean Cain was miscast as Superman; he'd make a much better Captain Marvel.
  • How UW is dedicating a new building to me. Really. It's called Ben Hall. (If I could, I'd link to the ads all over campus that say "Ben Who?")
  • Okay, not really.
  • How I've started my own religion.
  • How I've been sick now for a month, at least, and even antibiotics didn't cure it.
  • How after I finish authority training next week I'll become master of the universe. Well, at least the bibliographic universe of name authority records.
  • How I'm falling asleep writing this because of the prescription cough medicine I

Monday, October 15, 2007

Common Justice

The Hollywood Reporter reports that casting has begun for the new Justice League of America movie. Director George Miller is looking for young actors who can grow into the (super)heroic roles over the course of several movies, so the list of auditioners includes actors from shows like The O.C., Sky High, and Running With Scissors. Oh, and also Common, the rapper. You'd think that the prospect of combining one of my favorite rappers with one of my favorite superhero teams would excite me, but mostly I'm just wondering what role he's auditioning for.

(NOTE: Not an actual photo.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If Only the ER Had a Frequent Flyer Program...

This afternoon at 2:30 I came home to find the following note on the door:

The fact that the arrow was pointing away from Neighbors' apartment only threw me off for a moment. So I picked LD up from Mr. Neighbor, came back home, put him down for a nap, and enjoyed my afternoon. At 5:30 S-Boogie came home with this:

There are seven stitches under that Band-Aid. According to the preschool teacher, the conversation after S-Boogie's fall went something like this:


Teacher: Come with me, S-Boogie, let's get that cleaned off.


Teacher: We should put a Band-Aid on that.

S-Boogie: OH, THE PAI-- Band-Aid? Can I have a Dora Band-Aid? I like Dora Band-Aids.

According to FoxyJ, the three hours at the hospital went something like this:

Doctor: Ooh, that looks deep. We're going to need stitches.

S-Boogie: Is that Batman over there I watch Batman with my daddy and did you see my clothes I'm wearing Halloween clothes I'm going to be Supergirl for Halloween hey everyone look at me I'm the cutest little girl ever and I'm oh so happy to be here where I get Play-Doh and colored pencils and stickers and cool Band-Aids and look at me look at me tell me how cute I am yes I know I'm beautiful tra la la.

Doctors and Nurses and Random Passersby: Ahh, aren't you so precious? Say something else, cute little girl, so we can tell you how amazingly cute you are again.

I figured she'd do something that required stitches sooner or later. I am mainly grateful that I was not there when it happened. The chin-splitting fall or the stitches.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Calories and Pounds

According to the display on the exercise bike, after sixty minutes of riding this morning I had burned about 450 calories. That's equivalent to what? A Snickers bar?

Mmm... Snickers...

On the bright side, according to the locker room scale, this morning I broke the 170 mark--169.8, to be exact--for the first time in recent memory. Granted, my 2007 goal is based on body fat, not weight, but still I think that's a sign I'm making some progress, if only 450 calories at a time.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Papa Fob's New Skills

French braids:

Toddler haircuts:

The braid needs work, but I'm pretty happy with the haircut.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Novel Concept

Little Dude has a thing lately for brushing his hair. Every time he's in the bathroom he points up to the shelf where the brush is and says, "Uh! Uh!" (Which translates roughly to "Father, I'd like to brush my hair now, please.")

This evening we were in the bathroom and he pointed and said "Uh! Uh!" so I picked him up with one arm, grabbed the brush with the other, and brushed his pretty blond locks. "You like brushing your hair, don't you, Little Dude? Gotta look your best for the--"

Then I stopped and thought, You know, I really don't want to assign my children sexual preferences before they're old enough to declare them themselves. There does appear to be, after all, a gay gene in the family, and I don't want to put any undue--

And then I stopped and thought, You know, he's one year old. He doesn't care about looking good for guys or girls. He wants to brush his hair because he's a toddler and brushing his hair is New and Exciting. Perhaps I should stop projecting adult sentiments onto my--

And then I had some other thought, which I no longer recall and was surely irrelevant to this post.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Drug of the Nation

One of the many ridiculous things that FoxyJ and I have been known to be proud of is the fact that we don't have cable and therefore we and our children are not corrupted by the evils of television. "S-Boogie doesn't even know who that is," we say smugly when other parents talk about annoying children's television characters.

Well, no more.

Last Monday night I finished watching Smallville Season Six (Tom Welling=nice to look at but not a great actor=the perfect Clark Kent), which I had checked out from the library, and then realized that Season Seven was premiering on Thursday night. So Tuesday morning I somewhat impulsively went online and made arrangements to have the Comcast guy stop by on Thursday afternoon.

It's only twelve bucks a month (plus horrendous taxes and fees) for the most basic thirty channels. I decided it was worth twelve bucks a month to be able to watch Smallville, Legion of Superheroes, and The Batman (can you spot a trend?), plus the occasional new episode of The Simpsons (which I would care more about watching regularly if the new ones were nearly as good as the old ones). The irony in all this is that it ends up the former three shows are all on one of the two channels we get clearly without cable. Oh well. Now we have other options.

Like this afternoon, S-Boogie watched two hours of PBS instead of two hours of Dora the Explorer on DVD. Which isn't that bad, I guess. PBS has good kids' shows. On Saturday I let her watch Legion of Superheroes and The Batman with me. Both are a little more violent than I'd ideally like my four-year-old watching, but they're no worse than the Justice League and Teen Titans DVDs I often let her watch with me. It's a compromise I make to be able to watch the shows I like while she's awake, and to spend some time doing something with her that we both enjoy (because, I'll be honest, I was sick of Dora the Explorer months ago). What I realized on Saturday, though, is that the worst part about letting kids watch TV is not the programs themselves; it's the commercials. If I keep letting her watch those, she's going to start asking me to buy her things and getting opinions on what brand of cereal she has to have RIGHT NOW!!! I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

But then I guess it's the price I pay to have my direct link to the united states of unconsciousness. And really, what kind of parent would I be if I deprived my daughter of her weekly dose of animated superheroes?