My real life superpower

Outside of about a two week span in high school, I've never tried to hide the fact that I'm a nerd. Not just in the "Oh yeah, I read 27 think pieces about comics last week" way, but in a "Big Bang Theory isn't funny because physicists aren't represented well" kind of way.

These days, I stick to cocktails and reading a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I'm an extroverted introvert, so I tend to prefer deep conversations to small talk. Bartending has helped partially overcome my aversion to small talk, and booze usually tends to lubricate the conversation (pun intended). Even four years in, I'm still trying to wrap my head around people wanting to hear about my nerd-dom.

And at cocktail parties and young professional events, that's my superpower. Not everyone likes reading the same things I do, but almost everyone has a favorite cocktail, mocktail, or flavor. Get on that topic, and I'm in my element.

Probably the greatest part of it is that cocktails are capital-c cool. People want to talk about what they like and dislike in food and drink, and love hearing how things fit together. Dive into the history of a spirit or cocktail? Your audience is usually captive.

My origin story thankfully doesn't begin with exposure to radiation or chemicals or science. When I started behind the bar, I spent almost all of my off-hours researching drinking history, lore, and recipes. I made dozens of flashcards to learn recipes for classic cocktails, and dove into it like I would have for a paper in college. My manager had provided links YouTube videos on bartending technique, and I practiced at home. When I was at work, I went through my flashcard deck of tasting notes as I tried new-to-me spirits, liqueurs, and tinctures.

No matter how far into it I got, customers at the bar wanted to hear about what I'd discovered. My friends were interested, and editors began accepting stories about the weirder aspects of drinking and bartending culture. Before, I had to rely on extensive web searches, tips from friends, or writing assignments to find topics to pitch, but in the bar world, everything was new and shiny and desirable.

I'm still finding things that keep it fun, but the shine has worn off for me. Cocktails are a big part of what I do, and until I find the end to all of the topics I have in my pitch ideas notebook, I'll keep digging. Right now, it's tequila and modernist authors, but in the next week, I'll probably start developing cocktails to submit for the winter menu at Marble Ring.

And until the day the drinking trend moves back to sugar-laden, day-glo club drinks, cocktails will be my superpower. 

Want to claim a superpower of your own? Check out my online whiskey class! In 30 minutes, you'll zoom through nine videos and become a whiskey hero all your own.

Marvel-ous Blondes

xmenAs a kid, I adored Marvel comics. I had a compendium of The X-Men Universe, watched cartoons and read graphic novels. Though there were lots of women in strong, empowering roles, none of them looked quite like me. Except the villains. As a tiny towheaded super nerd, the only women blonde women I encountered were bimbos or plotting to kill Dr. X.

Admittedly, I didn't make the connection until I was researching possible cosplay options, but the conflict was there. In spending an hour or two (or three) looking through the X-Men Wikia, I found a few random, inconsequential characters who appeared occasionally to round out a shoot in the X-Men movies.

I hear you shouting "Emma Frost! What about Emma Frost?!" Yes, there were a few storylines where she was totally and entirely good from the start, but she's a villain at some point in most of them. As I looked into the matter further, I became more and more frustrated with the Universe that used to be my escape.

After a while, I searched Reddit. Talk about a rabbit hole -- I ended up spending 30 minutes looking at pictures of dogs dressed up as superheroes, but didn't find anything that addressed the lack of blondes. Once I got back on track, I found several threads debating the hottest character, but it didn't seem like Redditors cared about much above the neckline.

Though we female nerds have been speaking out more and more, there's still a lot of bias to overcome within certain fandoms. I understand that the target audience for these comics is adolescent and pre-adolescent boys, but a good number of girls and women read them as well. So where'd the blondes go?!

Have any theories? Leave them in the comments.

Whiling away the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey

I don't read enough. Well, that's only half true. If you combine the time I spend reading blogs and my tutoring kids’ homework and text at work and you’ll probably end up with a figure much higher than the average American’s.

The full truth is that I don’t read enough books. Though I’ll occasionally read on a screen, a physical book is just so much...sexier. With a paper book, you have the weight of it in your hands, the smell of new or old binding glue and reminder of what you read to keep on your shelf. Virtual notes in ebooks just don’t evoke the same response that fading notes in the margins do.

That said, I frequent quite a few websites to keep my workdays lively. These are divided up into five main categories: nerdery, current events, music and pop culture and local love. The last one will get its own post.

If I’m having a rough day, I’ll usually visit the Nerdist. Home to a dedicated Neil deGrasse Tyson channel, a recurring celebrity bowling segment and sci fi TV news, it’s one of the easiest sources for fun. It’s also run by comedian Chris Hardwick, one of the geniuses behind this Ben Folds (+ Fraggles!) video and this parody of the meme above. Though I am a relative newcomer to the podcast, I’ve already gotten in trouble at work multiple times for laughing too hard at the Bane impersonations (video not from the Nerdist) and the episode with Bill Nye (language NSFW, proceed with headphones).

Many of my nerdy reads come from Adam via boingboing. The few times I’ve been on there, I’ve spent hours going back through the archives. It’s nerdy, tech-savvy and delicious.

My news sources tend to vary widely, from Al Jazeera to the Huffington Post to Fox News to the BBC to Jon Stewart. I try to source my news from several places to counteract the spin, but have recently tended towards focusing on the BBC and Al Jazeera for domestic political news. Turns out, if you’re not beholden to a fan base that has a personal, emotional interest on certain issues, your coverage tends towards a fact-based approach. More on that tomorrow.

For music and pop culture, I follow @PasteMagazine on Twitter and haunt its music section to discover bands’ touring schedules before they hit the venue websites. When used in tandem with a streaming service, it can also be a great way to discover new music or find artists who are talking about or coming to your town.

For pop culture, I usually go back to the Nerdist or boingboing, but I also regularly check the Muppets Studio YouTube channel. I dare you to try to watch their interpretation of “Stand By Me” and not say “HAI, I’M A BUNNEH” several times during the next day.

Title inspired by the Eleventh Doctor