Monday, May 17, 2010

Inside the Blogging Studio with Bourgeois Nerd

Oh, I know -- You all were expecting another post about the problems I see in patriarch's world Arizona. I do have plenty to say about the most recent law banning ethnic studies. Still, sometimes one needs a little escapism. This is why I jumped at the chance to have a chat with my ol' blogging buddy Bourgeois Nerd. Join us for the first part of our chat here today, and over at his place tomorrow for Part II.


Bourgeois Nerd (BN): Ever since GayProf and Historiann’s terrific blog conversation, I knew I wanted to do something similar. The only problem is I’m not an academic, so there were no historiographic or pedagogical issues we could really discuss. So what I was thinking was we’d talk about being gay nerd bloggers and how that influences our perspectives and content. Or something. It’s a bit meta, perhaps even navel-gazing, but I think it will work. I guess we’ll see.

I guess we’ll go with a slightly cliché question to break the ice: what brought you to blogging? Mine was just peer pressure, basically. I started reading a lot of blogs over a winter break in college, everyone was doing it, so I thought “Hey, why not!”

GayProf (GP): My blog actually started from a convergence of really bad scenes and drama. At the time (so long ago, now!) my eight year relationship with My Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) was coming to an end. Oddly, it was he who suggested that I do a blog. Maybe he wanted to distract me from all the lies he kept telling. On this I cannot say.

BN: I’ve always wanted to meet Liar Ex (Who Told Many Lies) just so I could pop him one on your behalf.

GP: Eh – He’s not really worth it. As it turns out, I am so much better off without him around. Funny how not living with a total loser makes your life easier and more fun. Life lesson learned. To misquote the immortal Tina Turner, "If you wanna love a man like me, it takes a man to do it."

In addition to the relationship nastiness, I was stuck in a miserable small town in the middle of TexAss and surrounded by remarkably hostile colleagues in my work life. The small gay community that was there felt really depressing because they were so under siege.

So, I guess you could say that my blog started out of desperation. I mean, you could say that, but it would make me feel bad about myself.

At the time, the blogosphere felt a bit smaller than it is now. Even though I didn’t anticipate it as a result, it turned out to be a really great way to connect with people.

BN: Totally. The stereotype of the pajama-clad blogger with no friends is so not true; blogging really is a great way to meet people and create communities. I’ve met people I wouldn’t have otherwise in a million years, from the big brother I never had to porn stars to you, My Strong Amazon Sister.

When did you first realize you were a nerd? As I said just the other day on my blog, I think I burst from the womb a nerd; it’s in my blood.

GP: Wait – you think that I am a nerd?!

Just because a person reads all the time, rarely exposes his skin to sunlight, hasn’t watched a television show produced after 1979, and is most widely associated with a campy comic book character, does that make him a nerd?

Oh . . . I guess it does. Damn! This I know for sure: I’d much rather be in a room surrounded by gay nerds than in a room with hetero “cool” people.

BN: To be in a room surrounded by gay nerds would be total bliss for me. (And a sexual fantasy, but we won’t go into that; this is a family blog conversation.)

GP: Maybe your blog is for families, but my blog ain’t for children.

BN: What do you think it means to be a gay nerd? It’s sort of being a double outsider; do you think it gives us a different perspective?

GP: For me, being a nerd isn’t about limits. It’s about being empowered to claim things – Like the authority to decide whether Matt Smith is brilliant or rubbish as the Doctor!

BN: Nerds get to unabashedly love something (sometimes too well), even if it’s not the socially-sanctioned subjects that people are allowed to be passionate about. Hardcore sports fans are as insane as any Star Trek conventioneer or guy who dresses up like Sonic the Hedgehog, but it’s “manly” so it’s okay.

GP: Though, to be fair, hardcore sports fans baffle me. I could see why they might not quite understand the pointed-ears thing (And, yes, I have attended a Star Trek convention in my lifetime.).

BN: Oh, they baffle me, too, but they’re “acceptable” in a way the people who speak Klingon aren’t.

You know, I’ve never been to a convention! It’s totally unbelievable, but true. I really want to go to at least one someday.

GP: I had a generally good time at the convention. It was around when I was 12 or 13 and Nichelle Nichols was the speaker. My father dropped me off at the convention center at 10 am and then returned around 6 or 7 pm. Today, he would probably be arrested for child abandonment.

But if your sexual fantasy is to be in a room surrounded by gay nerds, maybe you might want to look into the Trek conventions? I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

BN: A real nerd is interesting because they’ve put time and thought into at least one non-mainstream activity or product. Anyone can talk about the weather, but not everyone can argue convincingly about warp core design.

Also, Matt Smith: brilliant as the Doctor. It’s heresy, I know, but, at least at the end, I kinda couldn’t stand David Tennant and Ten. The smug pomposity made me gag. (To add to the heresy: I think Chris Eccleston is much hotter than Tennant, especially with the leather jacket. I also think he was the better Doctor and actor.) I think Matt Smith and Eleven will be just the right kind of unabashedly goofy to clear the air after two very angsty Doctors. And Amy Pond is just amazing. I’m predicting she’ll be my favoritest Companion ever.

GP: Sacrilege! Only Martha Jones can hold the title of favoritest companion!

BN: Poor Martha. That’s always how I think of her: “Poor Martha.” She got a really raw deal as a Companion.

GP: Martha was the only companion who felt like a solid peer to the doctor. Donna, though, was a nice change in that she wasn’t always fawning.

Matt Smith strikes me as more pompous than David Tennant. Smith seems to be doing okay so far, but I can’t say that I adore him. He often looks out of his acting depth – Kinda like he is a teenage boy who borrowed his father’s suit to play a business man in the high school play.

BN: Do you think a gay nerd is really any different from being a straight nerd, other than appreciating all the men in spandex, or do we have some unique perspective?

GP: Being queer gives us a unique perspective on everything else, so of course I think we are different caste of nerd. I’ve heard different theories about the attraction of some gay men to nerdom. For me, nerdom provided an absolute escape from a pretty grim adolescence.

BN: I totally hear you about “escape.” It was definitely that for me. This sounds so pathetic, probably because it is, but there was a large stretch of my life where books and Star Trek were my only friends. Even now, it’s a nice way to escape from quotidian reality.

Do you think your blog helps you at all in your academic work? I know some academic bloggers, such as The Little Professor, use blog posts to “think out loud” about issues they’re working on professionally.

GP: Well, given how indiscreetly I critiqued some of my evil TexAss colleagues, I’m lucky it didn't end my career as an academic!

The way that it has helped my career is much the same as most people report about blogging: It provided a much wider circle of people that I know. I wouldn’t say that the writing has done much for me (except occasionally distract me from NERPoD). Instead, I tended to use the blog to write about things that I wouldn’t have been able to write about in my academic career.

What I like about the blog is that I can have a bit more of a sense of humor. It might surprise you, but academics aren’t well known for being a barrel of laughs. Even when we are writing about really serious issues, I think that you can still poke fun. Like, for instance, noting that Arizona recently changed its advertising campaign to be “The Grand Klan State.” It’s a little clunky, but it apparently tested better than “Got Whiteness?”

BN: I still can’t believe that law passed. Tell me you’re going to do a post on that, as only you can?

GP: I did my best before hand.

BN: You sure did. But now they’re getting rid of any teacher with an accent, and, in a direct attack on you, outlawing ethnic studies! What is going on?!?

GP: The governor just signed the law outlawing ethnic studies courses. That state is becoming a leader of asshattery.

BN: You post less, but generally longer-form, and usually have a long comment thread. I tend to post more, but generally shorter-form, and rarely have many, if any comments. This isn’t a criticism of my wonderful, fabulous readers whom I love very much (it isn’t), or to say your (wonderful, fabulous) readers are better, but I do find it interesting.

GP: My posting less isn’t really by design. After five years, the ol’ creative tank might be nearing empty. It would be nice to think of it as a genius campaign to build momentum for the blog. In my fantasies, scores of people are huddled around their laptops waiting for the day that a new post emerges on CoG. In reality, though, the blogosphere has a shorter attention span than Bart Simpson. Any day, I expect the blogging version of Heidi Klum to send an e-mail telling me that I’m “out.” I wonder who that would be – Joe. My. God?

BN: I definitely know what you mean about the creative tank running low. I find my creativity and posting frequency is very, very cyclical. I also have an advantage in that I often just throw up a link to someone else’s work and say “Hey, this is cool!” and call it a post, plus I at least have my “Skimpy Sunday” feature where I just throw up some pretty men. You actually sit and think and write, which is a lot harder and time-consuming.

Do you think the vast improvement in your life has something to do with your dwindling blog output? If blogging was therapy for you, then the dissipation of your issues has made “therapy” less vital.

GP: Maybe. . . Definitely the early years of the blog were partly about working out what felt like a serious trauma. It probably felt that way, because it was. You’re right that my life is so much better now and I don’t need to “vent”.

Mostly, though, I think the slow down in blogging is that my current life has also left me absurdly busy. I’m lucky if I have time to read my favorite blogs, much less write something. Big Midwestern University kids itself if it thinks that having a dual appointment is anything other than double the work of a regular appointment. They then wonder why they lose so many faculty to other universities.

But I also do have fewer creative ideas than I once did. Somewhere around the second or third year, I put a lot of thought into ways to make the blog grow or change. Maybe my creative energies are going elsewhere (like NERPoD: The Sequel) these days.

BN: I once wrote creatively a lot: poetry, short stories, etc. My ambition was to write the Great American Fantasy Novel. But my period of greatest creativity was when I was in high school suffering from major depression; as I’ve grown older and generally happier, the urge and ability to write has pretty much evaporated.

Joe. My. God. and Andy Towle would be my guess for blogging Heidi Klum, BTW, though actually I think RuPaul would be more appropriate. “The time has come for you to blog post FOR YOUR LIFE!” (Have you watched RuPaul’s Drag Race? You really should. This season isn’t as good as last season, though.)

GP: I do like RuPaul’s Drag Race. This season was not quite as good as the first. It disappoints me, too, that the show has tended to subtly discriminate against contestants with an accent. In the first season, Nina Flowers was not given the crown because (according to RuPaul) she had “language issues.” Likewise, I felt like Jessica Wilde was eliminated once she was unable to shill Absolut Vodka in a Midwestern accent.

BN: The second season of RPDR was definitely inferior. The talent level was, overall, lower, and the bitching was just over the top. There’s a difference between being bitchy and being a bitch, and too many went too far over that line this time around.

GP: But to get back to the topic at hand – which I am pretty sure was me -- I write posts that are often quite lengthy. Maybe this is the type of thing that Little Professor refers to as “thinking out loud.” There is some issue that has me thinking (draconian immigration laws; imbalanced school curriculum; whether Jill Munroe could take Pepper Anderson in a cage match) and I am trying out an argument about it.


Read Part II tomorrow where Bourgeois Nerd and GayProf discuss secret blog identities, social phobias, and gay marriage. Plus, GayProf will show you how to get coffee rings out of your antique furniture!


Roger Owen Green said...

I liked this a lot. GP, I'm afraid you ARE a nerd, but just makes you more adorable.

Historiann said...

Hey--can you hurry up and post about the water spots on furniture? I need your help, Nerdy, Bourgeois, and Gay Ones!

Mel said...

What Historiann said. Also, I might have squeed a bit when I saw Martha Jones.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Martha Jones is the most awesomest ever. But yeah, I felt like a lot of her plots were really unfair to her. It felt really uncomfortable whenever she or one of her family members had to dress like a maid.

I love Eleven, though. Especially due to his tireless advocacy of the bow tie.

Mel said...

I haven't had a chance to see Matt Smith as the Doctor yet, but I confess to ambivalence about the bow tie. I do like them, but they remind me of the cheating, lying, no-good ex, which is not so good.

GayProf said...

RoG: I will try not to fight the nerd title -- Especially if it highlights my innate adorableness.

Historiann: I adore my friends, but they seem to have missed the purpose of coasters in their formative years. I often wonder, do they only have plastic furniture in their home?

Mel: Martha is squee worthy.

Charles Céleste Hutchins: Martha and her family were maids more often than any other companion. Quite frankly, I am creeped out by the idea of the nine-hundred-year-old Doctor cruising the earth looking for barley legal 18 year olds to take out into space with him.

Mel2: Bow ties should only be worn by the honest.

vuboq said...

I make all my guests use coasters. And if they don't (or forget), I pick up their glass and put a coaster under it.

Wait. What do you mean that wasn't what this post was about?

susurro said...

have I told you lately that I love you :) who else could fit in Nichelle Nichols, Martha Jones, and David Tennant in one post while also slagging off Matt Smith. (who, by the way, may have fooled me into thinking he had what it took in the two part stone angel epis but went right back to bleh in the next two epis after that)

Of course you know this love is tempered by the fact you got to meet Nichols and I didn't and that is simply not ok ... Do I have to dress like a Romulan to get some play here or perhaps just borrow that knock off JLo wore a few years back.

GayProf said...

VUBOQ: I never have time at my parties to play coaster police. I'm much too busy making the cocktails that will eventually scare my tables.

Susurro: Don't be jealous of my boogie.

Laverne said...

Okay, so I LOVED David Tennant, and I'm not afraid to admit it. Matt Smith seems to me to be a poor immitation of him. He's not different enough to me yet.

And it wasn't Martha, it was Donna who got a raw deal. She didn't even get to remember any of her time with the doctor.

Yeah, I watch it. So?