Your Public Service Announcement: Not Every Attraction Is A Call To Action

I am a flitting butterfly, forming crushes based upon the faintest of interactions.  A pretty smile and a pleasant conversation? Chances are I’m swooning over her. And it would be utterly impossible for me to remain happily married if I didn’t understand one fundamental truth about relationships:
I don’t have to follow up on every possibility.
It’s okay to have a crush on someone, and have that crush hover between us, unspoken.  I’m not obligated to tell her.  If she looks as if she wouldn’t be interested, then spewing my unwanted crushitude all over her face is only going to smother this potential friendship under a tide of awkwardness.
But why do I want to unburden my heart?  Because deep down, some stupid part of me believes that if there’s a chance for a romance here, I must grab at it!  Which is a leftover feeling of scarcity from my teenaged years – that desperate feeling that physical passion is so rare that I must instantly gorge upon any opportunity presented to me, like a caveman who’s found a stockpile of honey.  If this opportunity slips by me, when will I ever have another?  Even if I’m dating to someone right now.  I gotta have this.  There’ll never be another.
That’s how a lot of cheating starts – with an attraction.  And both parties, unused to this sort of potential popping up during committed relationships, act as though this erotic connection was some sort of fiat by God, as though people aren’t drawn to each other unless they’re meant to fuck… and so they get down and dirty and destroy everything around them.  And you see that stripe of thinking in a lot of fundamentalist religions, where they’d rather swaddle women in clothing or dehumanize them or distance them because OH MY GOD THESE WIMMENS ARE LURING ME IN LIKE THE SNAKE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN.  If a woman looks like she might want to have sex with me, I’m powerless in the grip of their come-hither lust-pheromones!
But no.  The world’s full of possibilities, and part of being a responsible human is recognizing that you don’t have to ride every rollercoaster.  I have really potent attractions to some of my closest friends, to the point where swirly daydreams invade my head while we’re talking and I wonder hey, what would it be like to kiss them.
Then I slot that fantasy into reality, and think: do I really need to wager this nascent friendship, putting all that on the table just on the one-in-a-hundred chance I’m misreading her and there might be a potential romance here?  And even if I won the bet, would this romance be something that fits into my life right now?  She’s got a boyfriend, I’m a little packed with poly right now… do I need to feed this flame just because I believe every candle wants to be a forest fire?
I look at them, and weigh the odds, and stay very quiet.  It’s okay to have this crush hovering between us.  It still exists, even if I never force it into action.  It’s not pathetic to leave this marked as an unknown; it’s an act of strength, not chasing after every pretty girl like some dog chasing cars. It’s an act of respect, not forcing her hand to give me a firm and verbal “no” when she’s been signalling her lack of interest strongly through body language and shut-down avenues of conversation.  It’s an act of maturity, being strong enough that Gini can trust me not to fall in love with every kissable face that comes along.
And that’s fine, having a few unfulfilled dreams.  It means the rest of my life has less drama, is more fulfilling, and contains wonderfully sexy buddies.  Not a bad tradeoff for a little ambiguity, if you ask me.

Covered In Bees: The Dead Hive (With Video!)

So do you want to see a box of bees?  I’m very thrilled.  I got it this weekend.
Box of bees
As we all know, the B-Wing is the coolest fighter in all of Star Wars, so after years of lusting after a Kenner B-Wing I found a reproduction, and…
Oh, wait.  Bees.  You want to know about our bees.  Well, you’ll be happy to know that I took videos!
As you recall, Bob, we had two hives last year: our old hive of bees, which were nice and docile and kind, and our new bees, which were vicious and had stings that could swell your hand to the point of unusability for two days.  We stopped feeding the new bees, partially because they stung us every time we tried to swap the container, and partially because if they died we’d breathe a sigh of relief.
Now it looks like the exceptionally long winter did them in.  I have mixed emotions about this.  On the one hand, they were so stupid as to sting the hand that fed them, actively aggressive to the point where we could not help them.  On the other, we did haul them all the way out from California to live in our yard, and as such had assumed responsibility for them to a certain extent.  I feel like I murdered a bunch of insects, which were as innocent as insects get.  I mean, millions of years of evolution had taught them that things poking around their hive were usually harmful, and it’s not really their fault that they didn’t understand our beneficial intent.
Still, now I can walk in the back yard without feeling oppressed.  So hey.  Mixed.
Anyway, here are Gini and me getting into the dead hive, showing you what it looks like when all the bees are gone – if by “all the bees,” you mean “a tragic handful”:

And here’s the unexpected benefit the bees left behind, which we certainly were not expecting.

The good news is, we’re getting a fresh box of bees on Wednesday, and when we put them in this old hive, they’ll have a hell of a head start.  Bees are not sentimental creatures, and they will move into this new home, happy to not have to expend valuable food and energy on making comb everywhere.  They’ll clean it out – bees are fastidious – and set up shop quickly, making us hope that we may gets some honey from these new guys come the fall.
Assuming they’re not mean bees.  But we have a nice queen this time around.  Denzil has assured us this queen is gentle and nice and lays very sweet workers.  Or so we hope.

Thoughts On The First Four Seasons Of The Wire

Last night, we finished off Season Four of The Wire, which was the most depressing season ender ever.  While The Wire’s never been an “up with people” show, at least the previous three seasons have been able to end on some note of triumph – Season Four puts four young, poor kids through the wringer and leaves the police grasping at straws.
That’s all right, though.  I’m looking at Season Four as the Empire Strikes Back season, as there’s too many hanging plot threads to call it complete – they’re literally only finding the bodies.  I’m not saying that Baltimore will be all unicorns and ponies by the time we’re done, but I’m pretty sure we’ll make headway somewhere.
There are those who say that The Wire is the greatest television show ever, and I’m not sure I buy into that.  What I will say is that The Wire is absolutely unique in television, a sprawling drama (with literally 70+ characters to keep track of) that shows an absolutely complex interplay between the cops, the criminals, the politicians, and the bureaucracy that houses all of these.
I remember a soldier once referring to war as “fighting a fire that learns to fight back,” and no show details that better than The Wire – which draws a keen line between “uneducated” and “smart.”  These kids on the streets may not know how to read, but that’s because the environment they’re in doesn’t reward book learning. The Wire seems to posit that intelligence is handed around evenly, but the rewards for the ways one uses those native smarts manifest very differently depending the culture you’re born into.  If you’re really smart and poor in Baltimore, then you’re going to get rewarded a lot more for drug dealing than for trying to go to college – not just in money, but in the support from your friends, and the protection from your allies.  And that’s shown in a lot of very subtle ways.
And so the dealers are cunning, finding increasingly complex ways to bamboozle both the cops and their competitors.  A lot of The Wire is a strange joy in seeing how the drug trade is adapting to the changes.  You wind up admiring some of these folks for how they do it, if not necessarily what they do.
Watch The Wire long enough and you become a part of it.  I’m in Season Four, and some of the older drug dealers have been killed or caught – and new dealers have arisen to take their place.  And these new kids, I don’t know them, I didn’t get to see their internal lives like I did with the old guys, they’re cold and scary.  And I found myself reminiscing for the good old days, when the guys I knew were running things, back when the streets of Baltimore seemed predictable – which is ludicrous.  The guys in Season One were killers, in some ways maniacs, selling drugs to dead-eyed junkies.  But I at least knew their rules, and so I find myself one of the old soldiers mourning that the neighborhood’s gone to hell, when it really hasn’t.  It was hell when I got here.  The hell has just changed temperatures.
The Wire also gave me one scene that just utterly weirded me out: three black guys, in a room.  The black guys were all cops.  They all had distinct personalities, I knew them as individuals, and they were assembled – debating – for reasons that had nothing to do with their blackness, just three African-Americans quietly hashing out a solution to a problem.  And I thought, “When was the last time I saw three black men as heroes in a show not specifically marketed to African-Americans?”  And I realized the answer was never.  That doesn’t happen.  There’s usually one or two people on a cast as The Black Guy – but enough of them that they could meet, coincidentally, in a room?  Never.  But a truly multiracial cast really brought that reality home to me, and it made me sad.
As I close out Season Four, though, what truly sticks with me is Randy.  Poor, fucking Randy, a young stupid kid who was bad but redeemable, who got backed into a corner and made one mistake.  And because of very small errors in the system, each done by people who were mostly trying to do the right things for stupid reasons, the consequences of that mistake got magnified until his whole life unravelled.  Like The Joker, he had one bad day, and that day will fuck him up now and forever, robbing him of any chance to do anything good ever again.  And maybe that’d be acceptable for a grown man – maybe – but he was a dumb kid.
Sometimes that’s the way life is.  Sometimes, there’s one bad thing you do – maybe even not that bad – and it shapes the rest of your days.  But man, is it bitter to see poor Randy condemned for mistakes that weren’t even mostly his.
And now I try to envision a Batman/The Wire crossover, which is surprisingly tricky to envision.

Your Last Chance To Have A Miserable, Short Life

Just a reminder for all Cleveland locals that I’m running a game of Fiasco this Sunday.  I’d kind of like to find more people to roleplay with in the area, maybe restart a campaign of mine, so if you’re interested, let me know!

How Comics Work

ME, TO GINI, AS WE WATCH JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED: “Now, the traditional way that Shazam beats Superman is by him shouting out his name and calling magical lightning down on a magically-vulnerable Superman.”
GINI: “Do Superman and Shazam traditionally dislike each other?”
ME: “No.  Actually, they kind of like each other.  Yet somehow they wind up fighting all the time anyway.”