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Finn`s Wake: It`s Elvis` Birthday!
© Mark Finn
January 15, 2003

Long-time readers of Finn’s Wake will know by now that I don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but instead celebrate Elvis’ Birthday as my official Out-With-the-Old, In-With-the-New kind of thing. For those venerable readers, I will instruct you to skip over the next section. For all of you RevolutionSF newcomers, here’s my pitch:

WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE ELVIS OVER THE BABY NEW YEAR

It’s simple. Traditions were made to be broken. How many of you have had a disappointing New Year’s Eve memory in your past? All of you, I guarantee it. You have to party, you have to kiss someone, you have to have FUN, dammit, or, well, you feel lame and loserly. It’s more pressure than trying to make Homecoming meaningful. I say, don’t do it. Throw off the shackles of your parent’s generation and cultivate your own tradition. And in places like Austin, Texas, where weirdness is routinely cultivated, things like Elvis’ Birthday make the news every year. I say, run with that. After all, Elvis is as close as we’ll actually get to a living saint. I’m serious when I say that we are ten years away from a recognized, organized Church of Elvis. Don’t kiss a stranger; sing an Elvis song to a friend, or watch an Elvis movie with a loved one. Don’t make New Year’s Resolutions (who doesn’t break them?); instead, make a Promise to the King. You wouldn’t lie to Elvis, would you? And best of all, there’s no pressure. It’s not even YOUR birthday. Let Elvis do the sweating. Sit back, enjoy yourself, and laugh at all of the losers who heated up macaroni and cheese in the microwave and watched the ball drop in Times Square.

END OF RECRUITMENT SPEECH

Now, having said that, I have found that living with Cathy is a lot like being in an interfaith relationship, you know, like the people who celebrate Hanukah and Christmas? Well, lately, Cathy has me doing admittedly low-key New Year’s Eve shenanigans. I’m okay with it, because she then follows me into Elvisness. It’s a fair exchange. But that’s not what this is about. It’s about the week in-between New Year’s Day and Elvis’ Birthday. I got sick as a dog. Food poisoning. The bad kind. But while I was sleeping it off, I had a dream. A vision. It’s a vision I want to pass on to all of you reading this.

I had a dream that I was in a world where everyone was nice to each other. We all wore clothes that fit us, and used soap and water to clean ourselves. No one smelled of rancid cheese, and everyone could laugh and talk and get along with each other. We all had common ground upon which to build long-lasting relationships, and the small and insignificant things in life didn’t matter; they went away.

I came out of my dream quickly, like someone had thrown water on me. And the words leapt out of my mouth unbidden: “We’ve all got to stop acting like geeks!”

I am serious. Let these words penetrate past the fog of Farscape trivia and the drill through the wall of superiority: the time has come for unilateral peace in the geek nation. We are not in the 1980’s anymore. The cultural climate is very different, now. The mainstream is poised to accept us. But we have to make the first move. We have to bathe, comb our hair, and not treat them like a subservient species. Throw out what the Prime Directive says about non-interference. Screw that Star Trek analogy. We need to become like Jedi Knights. Keepers of the Geek. Trust me on this.

Let me give you an example. I was in the video store the other day and I overheard two women in their thirties talking about Vincent Price. “It was something kind of cheesy . . . Tickler, or something like that. My sister used to freak out when it came on. God, I wish I could remember what it was.”

I knew the answer to this thing they were talking about. The Tingler, an old William Castle classic. I know a lot about this thing. I’m a minor expert. Dare I say it? A geek. I decided to jump in and help out. Now, here’s your quiz. Read the choices below and pick the response that best describes how YOU would have fielded the question. Don’t answer how you think I want you to. Be honest with yourself. Would you say:

(A) (sighing, obviously bored of listening to everyone be wrong) Well, anyone who knows anything about the horror genre of the fifties knows that it was called The Tingler, directed by the late, great, and under-appreciated William Castle.

(B) (Out of breath from running back into the horror section to grab The Tingler off of the shelves) Have no fear, my ladies, for I have procured the answer to your mystery and lo! Here it is! This, of course, is best watched in the company of a knowledgeable horror expert . . .

(C) Excuse me? That movie you’re looking for? It’s called The Tingler. It’s an old classic. A William Castle film. I think they have it here.

If you answered anything but choice C, then you are to whom I am directing this mission statement. They were thrilled that I knew the movie, and asked me more about it. I was able to briefly and succinctly (note the emphasis on those words) explain about the gimmicked vibrating seats that the projectionist controlled, how they never worked that well, and all of that jazz. They ended up renting the film to show to the woman’s sister. And they thanked me. It was pleasant. They went home with new, useless information in their heads and maybe a bit of understanding about horror movie geeks.

I say to you, my brothers and sisters, what good is your knowledge if you spend all of your free time arguing with BOBAFETT1188 in the Paste-Eaters Chat rooms for half the night about whether or not Han should have shot first? Do you think you’ll ever win that argument? Leave your zone of safety. Get out there and spread your knowledge around. Distribute it to the masses. Be subtle. Be direct. But be active.

First, though, let’s talk about what you’re going to wear.

I’m not saying that an Army of Darkness T-shirt isn’t a fine garment indeed. But you need to remember that most people who work a job all day don’t want to see a one handed guy covered with blood and freaked out on anyone’s T-shirt after a hard day at the office, even if they DO feel like that. Consider what most other people wear. They wear shirts, sometimes with collars. They wear pants that don’t have a camouflage pattern on them. They wear socks and shoes that go with their outfits. Sneakers are fine, as long as you wear white socks and we can’t see them. Regular people don’t wear sweatpants, flip-flops over grey socks, tank tops, and shirts that say, “I Survived GrokCon IV.” For the record, they also don’t dress like they just stepped out of Blade or The Matrix. I’m sorry, guys, I don’t mean to pick on you. I see you trying. You’ve combed your hair, taken a shower, and by the standards of your brethren, you look dressed to kill. But that billowing black trench coat and completely black wardrobe adds nothing to your cool factor. I mean it. Nothing. You still look like a gamer. Just a very well-dressed gamer. You get credit for trying, but you need some color.

Just give this idea a try, is all I’m saying. Stop sneering at girls who get the names of the X-Men wrong. Hey, at least they are talking about the X-Men. And this year, with all of these super hero movies in the works, the odds just quadrupled that you might actually get laid. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Don’t scorn those people who are just now reading The Lord of the Rings. For that matter, don’t greet these people in Elvish and then patiently translate what you just said to them, either. No one really wants to hear it. They are trying to understand our world. Now, will you welcome them to Munchkinland, or will you drop a house on their heads?

In 2003, you’ll be able to hold your head up and say, “I’m a Geek!” and people won’t take your lunch money. We’re about to become fashionable. This is our window, our one shot. I say, we seize the day. And if we’re really lucky, we’ll roll a natural twenty and it’ll be a critical success!

Mark Finn is the author of Gods New and Used and Year of the Hare, available from your local bookstore or from www.amazon.com.

 
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