100w100d: Amanda

Amanda being fancy at MixologyDay 51: My college friend Amanda recently stopped by LA and we spent a day last week catching up. She’s one of the very few people who I feel 100% comfortable around. From a terrible joke to a life-affirming hug, we’re always on the same page despite being miles apart or the (not that) many years since our college days.

She also happens to look and act exactly like Linda from Bob’s Burgers. From the funky red-framed glasses to her love for singing, I’m reminded how blessed I am to have a friend just like her every time I watch that show.

100w100d: Ellen Joyce Loo

Day 30: Some time in the past two years, I’ve unknowingly but surely fallen head over heels with Hong Kong artist Ellen Loo.

Often melancholic and always elegantly arranged, her music isn’t built on catchiness but its charm will warm up to you before you even take notice. Satellite Lover can stir me up just as easily as Departure can make me waltz my night away.

I also adore what she’s trying to do. Constantly strive to improve herself and set on carving her own path, I happily look up to her for inspiration every time I get knocked down from life.

100w100d: Facebook

Day 25: To ween off Facebook, I recently decided to remove the app on my iPhone. It’s only been a few days, but the itch is ever so prevalent every time I unlock my phone. Did anyone like anything? Did anyone comment on anything? I never realized how these silly numbers and strings of text could become the currency of my self-worth.

More importantly, Facebook has turned this… feeling into something so quantifiable and marketable. It’s not enough to know if someone likes you, because the answer is no longer true or false, but how many.

Question is, where does it end?

100w100d: Donna Noble

Day 20: I had no idea who Catherine Tate was until one night when I was hours into my Doctor Who marathon viewing, half asleep and faintly recognizing this red-headed person as the same unfunny British woman in The Office that’s seasons past its prime. Really?

But color me surprised, her character in Doctor Who is simply fantastic. Loudmouth and fiercely independent, Donna’s personality is a sharp contrast to her otherwise dull, ordinary life. She’s not useless and unlike the Doctor’s other companions, she’s not at all head over heels about him.

Donna Noble, the most important woman in all of creation!

100w100d: The Doctor

Day 13: After hearing so many good things and seeing how prevalent Doctor Who is in the comic conventions I’ve been to, it was something I had to at least give it a shot.

But the series took its time to grow on me. I didn’t like the 9th doctor and I found the series to be super cheesy, not unlike the MTV’s Undressed of Sci-Fi. It was only in the season with Catherine Tate that I finally learned to trust The Doctor.

Now all I want to do is to step inside the TARDIS and have it whoosh my worries away.

On Vince Tyler, 13 years after Queer As Folk

Cover of Queer As Folk UKIt was about 13 years ago since I first watched the British version of Queer as Folk, something that led to my coming out that very summer. I was 16.

Not completely out at the time, the 15-year old Nathan character was loitering in the gay district of Manchester, UK, and eventually got picked up by the much older, very sexual Stuart where the story began. Nathan didn’t just come out of the closet — he flat out exploded out of the closet, and at the time that was something I thought I had to do in my conservative Chinese family. There was just no other way.

But as much as I was trying to relate to Nathan (mostly due to our similarity in age), it was Vince, Stuart’s best friend, who completely captivated me. Geeky, handsome, and a constant giver to Stuart, it was Vince that I was most related to. Being 16 at the time, Vince seemed like the perfect man, not to mention someone I hope to eventually become.

Craig Kelly as Queer As Folk's Vince Tyler
Vince Tyler in Queer As Folk (UK)

Just recently, Queer as Folk was brought on to Netflix, and in the past week I’ve been re-watching, and re-living, the entire series.

I don’t think there’s anyone in my life, other than my friend Florent, who will quite understand my obsession with Vince. 13 years since finishing the series, I can still recite most of Vince’s dialogues. (“There’s always some new bloke, some better bloke, just waiting around the corner. That’s why you keep going out.”) He’s just as geeky, charming, and relatable as the first time I saw him on my Aiwa 12″ CRT television-VCR combo I picked up at Costco with my then-clueless dad.

Then something happened. I was surprised to find out that Stuart and Vince were not “much older” as I initially had in mind. They were actually 29. I’m 29.

Looking at where I am in life, it’s not a far-fetch to say that, Stuart aside, I have pretty much become Vince. I may not be as big of a Doctor Who fan as he is, but in terms of hitting that geeky, adorable, “I’m everybody’s friend” niche, there are at times little difference between watching him on the show and staring at myself in the mirror. (My closest friends even call me Wins for Pete’s sake.)

Stuart: You’ve done nothing Vince. You go to work, you go for a drink, you sit and watch cheap science fiction. Small and tiny world. What’s so impressive about that, what’s there to love?
Vince: …yeah.
Stuart: It was good enough for me.

Now, I know — there’s nothing wrong with being everybody’s friend. But there is also this side of Vince I’ve never noticed before. The part where he’s full of insecurities and how he’s constantly picking up after Stuart. What I once saw as commitment and loyalty I am now reminded of that line from Train’s Drop of Jupiter: …a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land.

Vince: Unrequited love. It’s fantastic, ’cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!

Of course, not all is bad. At the end of the day I am my own person. I have my faults just as much as my strengths, just like Vince and everybody else on the face of this blue planet. For every blunder I’ve had in the past, I’ve also had an equal amount of accomplishments with my family, my career, and in myself. The fact that I’m openly writing about my sexuality (and also sharing the link on Twitter & Facebook where my friends, family, and co-workers will see) is something I could not do even a couple years before.

Who were you at 16 and who are you now? It’s easy to think you’re still that nervous, insecure child, stagnant of any growth. But just like most things you create, it’s sometimes more helpful to give it some room and come back to look with a fresh pair of eyes. You’ll be surprised to see just how much you’ve grown.

❤ wins

Winson Shuen works at IGN but is not an editor. All opinions expressed here are solely his own and do not represent his employer by any means. You can follow him on Twitter @vdot90.

Player 2 Press Start: A tribute to the unsung heroes

From Luigi in Super Mario Bros. to Jimmy Lee in Double Dragon, being the younger brother often means I have to settle for Player 2 characters. But using the term “settle” isn’t really justifiable because these lesser-known sidekicks were the ones I know and love; they were the ones who were there for me growing up.

LuigiMy love affair with support characters began with Luigi. Before Nintendo made Luigi a more distinguished, overall sloppier character we know (but mostly loathe) today, he was initially created as a direct replica from his A-list celebrity brother Mario. That meant that even though I was the second player, I had the same potential as Mario. Born with the same jumping gene as the so-called original, I was always the one who ended up saving Princess Peach Toadstool — not Mario.

In my mind, Mario games are wonderful, but it’s Luigi’s Mansion that’s captured my heart. The way he’s forced to vacuum the entire house (much like me growing up) only to clumsily fall off the stairs is infinitely more relatable than a fat man’s ability to fly from wearing a fursuit.

Unlike the main characters in videgames, born with gold PSN trophies in their mouths, stories of supporting characters are much more interesting to me. Gamers often talk about Cloud, Aerith and Tifa, but only those who went out of their way were able to convince Yuffie to join the quest in the battle against Sephiroth in Final Fantasy 7.

NightwingI’m more captivated by these unsung heroes in almost every thing I play, watch, and read. While Batman can’t seem to ever stop whining about his massive fortune and deceased parents, Dick Grayson is the one who has to deal with his parents’ death without any fortune left behind, all while struggling to become his own man. Sailor Moon may be the moon princess, but there’s something undeniably cool and admirable about the ever independent, yet unfortunately named, Sailor Uranus. Darkwing duck is the terror that flaps in the night, but Gizmoduck is the one who ends up saving the day with his built-in can opener.

At the end of the day, while everyone wants to be the main superhero who basks in the spotlight, I just want to be a useful sidekick who knows when to throw in the Master Sword (Ahem). Maybe being the younger brother makes me more aware of others, or maybe it helps me realize that I don’t need to be the center of attention in order to craft out my own identity. But just like Leslie Chow in the Hangover or Jack from Will and Grace, these under-the-radar, supporting characters may just end up stealing the spotlight at the end.

Why horror movies consume me

tl;dr – Blood and violence aside, horror movies ooze out creativity other genres just can’t compare to.

I could never watch scary movies when I was a kid. I remember closing my eyes for most of the movie in The Swarm, and I was absolutely pathetic with A Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact, I’ve never finished any of the movies. Instead I just surrendered myself to bed, hours before bedtime.

The entire premise for A Nightmare on Elm Street itself is horrifying. The fact that this child molester is killing teenagers in their dreams while none of the adults (usually the ones kids run toward for help) would ever believe them makes it even worse.

It wasn’t until this year did I decide to face my fears and paid for an Netflix account. My first DVD queue was A Nightmare on Elm Street, and guess what – not only did I survive that movie, I fell head over heels in love with it. Or the idea of it. Continue reading “Why horror movies consume me”

You go, then I'll go

tl;dr – “You go, then I’ll go” is exactly what we need to do to move America forward. Rally to restore sanity, indeed. Fear… not so much.

Logo for Rally to Restoring Sanity and/or FearWe all knew Jon Stewart‘s and Stephen Colbert‘s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was going to be a historical event. Even before the event was officially announced, even before the Internet began its hype machines, many of us already see the two of them as voices of reason from their respective television shows, ironically from a comedy network.

And when the rally finally happened, I found myself confused by the point of it for the longest time. The first few hours was a hodgepodge of musical performances and guest appearances, and as much as I love seeing Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy perform You Are Not Alone [iTunes link], I was afraid that the event was nothing more than an excuse to get people out of their houses.

I can see them perform for hours

“Maybe that was the point”, I thought to myself. Jon Stewart did say he wanted to have a reasonable rally and encourage people to “Take it down a notch for America”, and what better way to do that than with some nice music on a breezy, sunny day? Maybe this is supposed to be a nice, relaxing concert in the fall. Continue reading “You go, then I'll go”

LGBT visibility in the media (in the past 10 years)

tl;dr – Despite the setback of DADT and Prop 8, LGBT visibility in pop culture has never been better. Our turn to be the cool kids.

Seeing how this is the third article here on coolyourgrits, I’m still not entirely sure what and what-not to write on this blog. I guess this is what happens when the only rule I have set for myself so far is to 1) keep writing and 2) not write about grits. So far so good right?

One of the things I’ve noticed recently is how far the media has portrayed the LGBT in pop culture. From comic books to television to radio and movies, it seems like we have finally entered the golden age for LGBT awareness. Continue reading “LGBT visibility in the media (in the past 10 years)”