My Inspirations: Kai Hiwatari

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Who is Kai Hiwatari?

Kai Hiwatari is one of the four central characters on the original three seasons of the TV anime, Beyblade. Beyblade is the millennia old game of spinning tops, and the twist in the anime is that the tops are possessed by sacred spirits which make the tops incredibly powerful.

Kai started out as the villain of the series, as the leader of a gang called the Blade Sharks. He is defeated by Tyson (the central protagonist) early on and Kai goes on to lead the central character team, The Bladebreakers.

As a child, Kai was born and raised in a Russian Abbey, where his grandfather trained him as a foot solider in his plan for world domination. Kai was never shown affection or love as a kid, and he comes off as aloof and cold to most people who meet him. Kai uses the Dranzer Beyblade, possessed by the spirit of a phoenix based on the real-life Kyoto legend of Suzaku.

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How did I discover Kai?

I was a huge fan of the show while I was in high school and my early years at Parkside. My interest in Kai and everything about him bordered on idolization. Kai doesn’t speak much over the course of the series, but what little he did say I used as my mantras in life and how I saw the world.

“You can dream all you want but when you wake up, you’ll find that nothing has changed. The only way to make those dreams come true is to dedicate your entire life to your sport.”

This is the quote in my senior high school yearbook under my photo. I still believe in this.

When I first started watching, Kai very strongly reminded me of Archie Costello from The Chocolate War, which I had read the year prior to first watching Beyblade.

How does Kai inspire me?

Kai goes through quite a bit of evolution over the course of the three seasons. As I saw him evolve into a better person on TV, I tried to emulate that and grow for myself. Kai eventually confronts his past and deals with his inner demons. While I didn’t feel like I had inner demons to confront, I still used Kai’s struggle and his quest for strength and growth to fuel my own desire to “grow up.”

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Kai is shown on the series to be a loner and an introvert. Kai spends as much time as possible on his own, practicing his skills and making himself stronger. Since I was idolizing Kai during the most crucial time in my own development, I picked up habits that I saw Kai doing on TV. It’s because of Kai that I identify myself as a loner/introvert, and my mind has shaped itself to function that way. Kai is at his happiest when he is alone, and I have psychologically grown to accept that trait about myself.

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Kai is one of the most popular characters on the original series of Beyblade, and much of the public interest in him stems from his “cool” factor. Kai looks the most appealing of the characters, his few sayings are particularly witty, and he gives off the vibe that he can never lose, which everyone wishes they could say.

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I’ve also found myself drawn to the Beyblade gear that Kai uses over the series as well. Back in those days, I would get incredibly excited whenever the next incarnation of Kai’s Dranzer would appear in stores. To a minor extent, it’s a hat-tip to my Power Ranger days when I’d get super excited about the next Megazord appearing in stores.

The two incarnations of Dranzer that I loved most of all were Dranzer V2 and Dranzer G, both of which appeared in 2004. This interest in “the latest gear” has translated over to my interest in technology. Getting the iPhone 6 that year was like getting Dranzer V2/G all over again.

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Pictured above: Dranzer V2 (Volcano II).

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Pictured above: Dranzer G. (Gigus) Also known as “what would have been my iPhone in 2004.”

When I went to Parkside, I made a pact with myself to grow beyond what Kai had taught me. Over the past several years, I’ve found new people and characters to look up to and model myself after, but Kai was one of the first. There are parts of him that I still look up to, and identify with, and I’ll probably have that forever.

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Thanks Kai, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Don & Charlie Epps

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Who is Charlie Epps?

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Charlie Epps is a fictional math professor at CalSci, and a consultant for the FBI on the TV series, Numb3rs. He is portrayed by actor David Krumholtz. Charlie is the younger brother of Don Epps. As a mathematical genius, Charlie is able to pull out equations and mathematical theories about any of the crimes that come up throughout the series. Charlie is known on the show for CharlieVision, which is when the camera goes to a cutscene or vision in Charlie’s head with the equations related to the investigated crimes flying in the air around the images in Charlie’s head. Charlie is very logical and scientific, and is highly skeptical of pseudosciences such as psychic ability and UFOs.

During the course of the show, Charlie develops a relationship with his student, Amita. Their relationship is very intellectual and starts off very un-romantic, since it’s hinted that Charlie has little dating experience.

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How did I discover Charlie Epps?

I first discovered Charlie Epps during my junior year of high school as the series Numb3rs was starting to air. My pre-calculus teacher showcased a few episodes as part of her class, and I fell in love with the show instantly. I was actually a pretty weak student during my middle and high school years, and Charlie was the first spark to lead my interest in not only math and science, but learning and education in general.

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Charlie is a master of his craft (mathematics), which is part of the core of his inspiration to me. Charlie is an example of someone who has dedicated their life to their strengths and their passions.

Who is Don Epps?

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Don Epps is the older brother of Charlie. He is portrayed by actor Rob Morrow. Don runs the FBI Violent Crimes Squad in Los Angeles. Don manages the investigative team, and leads them into various confrontations with the violent criminals they track and expose. Don sees his career as his way of life, and makes great personal sacrifices for his job, often at the cost of his social life.

Don is one of two characters that started my interest in criminal justice. Don, much like Charlie is incredibly dedicated to his craft, and it shows in his leadership. He can take command of a dangerous situation, but is also a great mentor to many of the people on his team, particularly David Sinclair and to a lesser extent, Megan Reeves.

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How does Don inspire me?

Don is one of the few people who has taught me what I define as masculinity. Don starts as a less emotional (though not necessarily “cold towards others”) of a character, and gives off an air of strength and power wherever he goes. There is plenty of physical strength references with Don, but not without showing his own intellect. Don understands emotions and feelings of others, and cares about them, particularly his family and his FBI Team. Don is the clearest example of what I define as a leader, which is a quality that I have plenty of room to improve on.

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To a lesser extent, Charlie also shows masculinity to me, but in a more academic and educational fashion. A hybrid of these two fictional brothers would display many of the points on my ideal man, and on a subconscious level, both of these characters were probably some of the base for that list.

Furthermore, both of these characters have helped define “what it means to be a man” to me, so I compare my own identity as a cisgendered male to them onscreen.

Thank you Charlie & Don, for being inspirations!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Sakura Kinomoto & Rose Tyler

Who is Sakura Kinomoto?

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Sakura Kinomoto is the titular character of the series Cardcaptor Sakura. I first discovered Sakura when the series was brought to American television in 2001, right about when I was in 7th grade. Sakura is an extremely energetic, cute, sweet, and very cheerful character. She is very athletic, being a member of her school’s cheerleading squad and an excellent runner, a trait she inherited from her father. Her invincible spell, “Everything will be all right” has carried her through innumerable trials and obstacles as she masters her magical skills. She often comes across as naïve, clumsy, dense and clueless, but she has her perceptive moments on occasion. Sakura’s optimistic and trustworthy character allows her to be friendly with everybody, she is very outgoing and the entire series focuses on the friendships she creates with people, whether strangers, loose acquaintances, or rivals. In fact, her personality is a dominating factor in her relationships.

As the heroine of the story, she is destined to discover, release, and re-capture the Clow Cards. During her adventure-slash-mission, she meets Li Syaoran, who starts as her rival but eventually becomes her love interest.

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How does Sakura inspire me?

The big point that I want to show is that it’s the story between Sakura and Syaoran that inspired me the most in the series. The anime (i.e. televised series) greatly downplayed this, but the manga (i.e. the book series that most anime tends to start as) had it as the central plot line. (Side note – the manga had several same-sex relationships and one relationship with a large age difference, which is a huge thing for a pre-2001 manga series in my opinion!)

Syaoran is introduced shortly after Sakura begins her journey to capture the Clow Cards, and is initially her opponent-slash-rival, trying to catch the Clow Cards before Sakura can get to them. After the cards are collected, the journey leads to converting the Clow Cards to Sakura cards. Syaoran was hesitant to stay at first, but discovering within himself that he has fallen in love with Sakura is what causes him to stay and help her finish her destiny.

Sakura is the epitome of what I consider to be pure and innocent. She is bubbly, happy, and everything I wanted to be when I was a child. Her weaknesses seem big to her, but she’s also in 4th grade for most of the series, and anything about ourselves seems gigantic at that time. Sakura loves her friends and classmates with all her heart, and shows this as often as she can. I have tried to emulate this in my own life.

As Syoran courts Sakura, she remains blind to his affections until the end of the series. Sakura’s closest friends comments to Syoran that she is so filled with happiness and love for others that unless Syoran told her directly about his love for her, she would never figure it out on her own.

In an obscure way, I still emulate this piece of her in my own life.

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Sakura’s relationships with her friends and Li is my old ideal, but I still dream about continuing to strive for it. There are still many things I see in Sakura’s heart that I want to emulate and embrace, but this leads me to my evolved dreams about romance, which is Rose Tyler.

Who is Rose Tyler?

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Rose Tyler is the companion to the ninth Doctor, and one of the companions to the tenth doctor in the series, Doctor Who. She is discovered by the ninth Doctor in the first episode of the reboot, and is invited to travel throughout time and space with him. She is a brave, resourceful, and sweet hearted girl. She is quick to adapt to strange events. She is brilliant and observant, often seeing things that that Doctor does not. As she spent more time with the Doctor going on adventures, facing aliens of all kinds, including psychological and physical threats, she started to develop feelings towards him.

Rose shows great forgiveness and mercy, even to those who have admitted to murder. Rose was also not afraid to call out the Doctor when she believed him to be wrong. At the same time, she had a jealous streak when it came to the Doctor. Once she had developed her feelings for him, she became more interested in her own desires, even above the consequences of her interests and actions.

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How does Rose inspire me?

Rose represents my evolved and more adult views on relationships. If Sakura is how I saw love and romance back before 2006, Rose is a picture of how I see myself falling in love after having been learning from Dan Savage for many years now. The love story of Rose and the tenth Doctor is more subtle, and therefore more romantic to me at this point in my life. The passion and raw emotions that Rose displays for the tenth Doctor in “Doomsday” is the kind of feelings I want to experience when I fall in love.

By starting with Sakura and evolving her into Rose leads me to what I expect out of love in my life at this point. I know that love is messy, complicated, disorganized, but also one of the best experiences that I could ever hope to partake in.

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I’d also like to point out the fact that my romantic role models are female, while my sexual role models are male, which is an interesting perspective on relationships as a whole. I also feel this balances me more as a person.

Thank you, Sakura & Rose for being inspirations!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

(My source for Sakura’s bio.)

(My source for Rose’s bio.)

My Inspirations: Brian Kinney

This is probably going to be my most controversial post in this series.

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Who is Brian Kinney?

Brian Kinney is a fictional character from the American TV series, Queer As Folk. Brian is portrayed by actor Gale Harold. Brian is a handsome, masculine, successful advertising executive living in Pittsburgh in a loft, and he leads a glamorous and indulgent lifestyle. Brian is promiscuous and narcissistic, proudly clinging to his status as “the most desired man on Liberty Avenue.” Brian is famous for being a character that is shown having sex with a different guy on nearly every episode of the five season series.

Brian entirely rejects the concept of heteronormativity, including being against all marriages and monoganamus relationships. He spends the run of the series in a complicated non-monoganamus relationship with a guy named Justin, who is just over half of Brian’s age.

Brian is considered to be one of the most iconic gay characters ever portrayed on television. He was voted most popular gay character in 2007 by the website AfterElton.

What about Brian inspires me?

Brian was my first real look into what life is like as an out gay man. Now, I’m fully aware that not every gay man lives his life like Brian does, but there’s a great deal of men who do. With the advent of Grindr, Scruff, Recon, Manhunt, and many, many more, any man who wants to can try and “play as” Brian for however long they want.

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Brian is a master of his craft. This is a running theme throughout my inspirations. First and foremost, Brian is an advertising executive, and a successful one at that. Brian starts out as a top notch executive in the first episode and eventually starts his own agency, which quickly takes off because of Brian’s raw talent. Whereas Kai was my childhood inspiration to teach me to strive for perfection, Brian is my adult inspiration to show me how important it is to constantly improve myself and my craft. Brian is a smooth talker, and knows how to get the job done in a short amount of time. Brian is as strong of an ad executive as Raja is a Drag Queen, or Don Epps is an FBI agent.

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Brian is a sex symbol. He has more sex than any other gay character I’ve seen on any other medium in my life. Every time I open Grindr or other such app, my mind always flicks back to him, because there are Brian wannabes on every gay social app on the market. While the amount of sex that Brian has is scary to some, he was never ashamed of it, and never regretted it. Brian was the first person (granted in fictional form) to show me that there is nothing inherently wrong in having sex.

Where my deep respect for Brian’s status as sex symbol comes in is that even with that many hookups/partners, he always advocated and enforced using condoms. As much as Brian played with other guys, he played on the safer sex side.

A part of Brian that I don’t draw inspiration from was that he also used plenty of recreational drugs. While I have no interest in drugs myself, he was the first person/character to start breaking down false images that I had put in my head from the anti-drug programs in elementary school.

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“No apologies, no regrets.”

This is one of Brian’s core values, and I feel that I have much to learn from this. Brian always stands behinds what he does, even if it’s unpopular or hated. Brian lives for himself, and sees that he is the keeper to his own happiness.

The following scene is from the first episode of the series, and I feel epitomizes why Brian is considered a sex symbol in the gay men’s community:

The things I can learn from Brian are specific and complicated. While I dream of the life that Brian has – wildly successful and a symbol of a sex-filled life, there’s a lot to making that happen safely. I had a phase years ago when I was watching Queer As Folk regularly where I spent more time thinking about getting laid than actually putting in the work to make myself succeed in life, and it contributed to one of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my life: failing out of my first college.

Another subtle thing that I like about Brian is his sense of style and fashion. The Tie Guy is showing me exactly how I can accomplish a wardrobe like Brian’s.

As I revisit Queer As Folk, Brian serves as a constant reminder that his life is the prize for mastering my skills in life, and putting in the work to reap the rewards. Though now when I look back, I remember that there is much more to life than just sex, but it is an important component in a relationship.

Broadly speaking, Queer As Folk as a show has been a major influence in my life. I first saw it when I was 19, but I didn’t see that it was based off the United Kingdom version until I was in my mid-twenties. While the United States version seems to have been more successful than the United Kingdom one, there is a huge cultural difference behind Brian’s character that has shaped how I look at life.

In the UK, going to a Pub in the evening is a more regular thing, and Pub culture in general is very prevalent. The drinking age is also younger over there than here in the US as well, making it “normal” for a 19 or 20 year old to be in a Pub. The concept of me creating foursquare venues for my apartments as Clubs and Bars was started by my fascination with Brian always going out to Babylon every night. In reality, this isn’t as common as I thought it to be when I first saw Brian at 19. This is also a comment on drinking culture that Karen Walker follows up on for me.

Thank you Brian Kinney, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,
Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Dan Savage & Joe Jervis

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Who is Dan Savage?

Dan Savage is an author, a sex-advice columnist, a podcaster, a pundit, and a public speaker. His sex-advice column, “Savage Love” first appeared in the Seattle weekly paper, The Stranger, in 1991. Dan has published six books in his life, including his most recent, American Savage. In 2010, Dan and his husband Terry launched the It Gets Better Project.

How did I discover Dan Savage?

Dan started the Savage Lovecast in 2006, which is how I first heard of Dan. I was a subscriber to the podcast since the beginning, and strived to stay involved by catching the Magnum versions of the podcast since the format change earlier in 2014.

Over the years, Dan has given volumes and volumes of sex and relationship advice. His advice and views have evolved over the course of the decade that he’s been on the air, showing that even well known celebrities (and people I look up to!) can continue to learn and improve themselves as human beings. I have been using the Savage Lovecast as an ongoing relationship and sex education hour during each week.

How does Dan inspire me?

What makes Dan Savage and the Savage Lovecast stand out is that it’s not just Dan giving advice based on his own life. In fact, he tries to refer to his own experience as rarely as possible. Dan has heard from tens of thousands of people, all with unique stories an questions to ask, so he’s had quite a wide palette of stories to draw his advice from.

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Dan Savage has given me some excellent guidelines to lay the groundwork for not only my romantic relationships, but all kinds of relationships I have with people, including platonic ones. Dan’s insights into life and how to view it, through the lens of romance or sex has really shaped how I feel about both subjects. Of course, there’s been other inspirations on those subjects beyond Dan Savage in my life as well. In this respect, I am striving to be as informed and well-rounded in my relationships as Dan talks about someday.

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Dan Savage is not only an advice columnist, but an activist as well. He has been on the front line in the fight for equality, and sometimes even criticized by members of the LGBTQ… community. Even I admit, Dan Savage has made his mistakes. But who hasn’t? Part of why this series of blog posts is about my inspirations as opposed to my heroes is because my inspirations are human and make mistakes and they grow from their mistakes.

As hated as the It Gets Better Project is in many circles, the videos created through the project have helped me in tough times. While I haven’t been at risk for suicide in particular, I can relate to the messages the each video presents, and sometimes just hearing the voices are of huge comfort. The following video is my personal favorite from the collection of tens of thousands, and Dan has referenced this video in particular on many occasions.

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Who is Joe Jervis?

Joe Jervis is a blogger based out of New York City. He is the author of the blog, JoeMyGod, which is technically his personal blog, but he has covered nearly every LGBTQ issue that’s been around since he started in 2004. JoeMyGod is the first website/blog that I ever put into an RSS Feed Reader, and I have been a loyal subscriber since I started following him in 2010. Like Dan in his column, Joe brings just enough of his own personality and life into his blog to give some hints about him, but otherwise lets his work speak for itself. It is thanks to Joe that I know who the real enemies of the equality movement are. By simply reading his blog every day for a long enough period of time, I have grown as a person and as an activist. I have also grown in my technical knowledge, sine Joe comments on tech and science discoveries in his blog as well. I have learned how to become a better blogger by watching how Joe writes his own blog as well.

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Joe has shown more than just the basic elements of the complex LGBTQ community. He has featured Drag Queens, Kinkster Events, Furries, and plenty of other people in the vast Queer umbrella during his time running JMG. Most of the time, I’ve heard it first from Joe. What I look up to in Joe is his level of connection to the world, and his mastery of the craft of blogging. (Mastery of one’s craft is a common thing I look up to.) Joe was the first journalist/blogger that I looked up to, and had an interest in trying to emulate. Other journalists, including fictional ones, have since helped grow my interest in journalism, but Joe was definitely the spark that ignited that fire.

What Joe and Dan have in common is that they are both constantly learning about others, and using that knowledge to make the world a better place, which is a lesson I continue to learn over and over again.

Thank you, Dan Savage & Joe Jervis for being inspirations!

Edit To Add, 12.09.2016:

My political views have shifted from where they were when I first wrote this post. I no longer actively follow Joe’s blog, but still maintain great respect for what he has accomplished in his time. I will gladly continue to point people in his direction.

There was an episode near #500 of the Savage Lovecast where Dan went on a political rant against guns. Dan has been doing political rants on his show for a few years now, and while I respect his right to say whatever he wants on his own shows, the politics were starting to overshadow the sex & relationship advice. My own political beliefs have shifted to the point where I couldn’t ignore what Dan was saying about getting rid of the second amendment. Like with Joe, I will gladly point people to Dan Savage for sex & relationship advice, but I no longer actively follow him or his show.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Kinsey Millhone

“My name is Kinsey Millhone. I am a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I am thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind.”
— the opening lines of A is for Alibi

How did I discover Kinsey Millhone?

I first heard of Kinsey Millhone back in 2005. My grandmother had collected the book series by Sue Grafton since they first came out in the 1980’s, and she passed her collection to me when she died. I had started reading the summer before I was a senior in high school, and fell in love with the main character almost instantly.

Who is Kinsey Millhone?

Here is Sue Grafton’s biographical description of her star character.

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The first thing to note: Sue Grafton will never allow her book series to be turned into movies, so there’s not really a particular actor or person that has portrayed Kinsey in the media. Just like Cecil, I have a vision of Kinsey in my mind, but your results may vary while reading the Alphabet Mystery series.  The Thrilling Detective claims that Dianne Keaton in her Annie Hall years would have been the best candidate to portray Kinsey, and I can see that. While Kinsey is often described as having short hair, I can’t help but keep a mental image of a long-haired woman in my head when I’m reading. The other person who I often envision in the role is Gwyneth Paltrow.

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The other person I every-once-in-a-while envision Kinsey as is Alyson Kiperman.

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“With intimacy, the wreckage starts to show, damage rendered in the course of passions colliding like freight trains on the same track.” -Kinsey Millhone, D is for Deadbeat

How does Kinsey inspire me?

With all of that being said, the biggest way that I can let Kinsey into my mind to inspire me is through the words in the novels, which is why this post will have more direct quotes and not nearly as many images as usual. Kinsey has been an evolving inspiration to me, meaning that what I see and relate to her now is very different that what I saw and could relate to in 2005. I’m going to focus on how Kinsey inspires me today.

Kinsey has been through two marriages, the first of which she broke off, the second of which she was dumped. I’ve only been in two long-term relationships since high school, and both ended in the same fashion as Kinsey’s marriages. Yes, I’m aware a marriage is very different from a mere relationship. The story picks up after Kinsey’s second marriage is over, and she goes through a series of relationships – some are short and more sexual, some are more serious. I can see myself relating to Kinsey’s shorter term relationships, because it’s pretty close to how I view my own short-term relationships.

“I’ve known women like that, who use their troubles as a reason to get laid, as if sex were a balm with healing properties. -Kinsey Millhone, F is For Fugitive

I used to be the person Kinsey is describing above.

“I know a couple of guys on the circuit and they’re hard as nails, you know? Unhappy. Hostile towards women. They get laid, but that’s about all they get.” -Kinsey Millhone, D is for Deadbeat

While I’m not “on the circuit” as Kinsey is describing here, I am finding myself growing “harder” when it comes to men (flipping the genders in this quote). Sure, with the use of Grindr, Scruff, Manhunt, and the like it’s easy to go get laid. Serious relationships are a much rarer find on them though. I’m not really comfortable going out to a bar or club and start talking to guys there to try to find a date. If there’s any kinds of mixers in the area for finding dates offline, I haven’t had much enthusiasm to try them.

I really love Kinsey’s insights into the human mind:

“Like water, our feelings trickle down through cracks and crevices, seeking out fractures in our character usually hidden from public view. Beware the dark pool at the bottom of our hearts. In it’s icy, black depths dwell strange and twisted creatures it is best not to disturb.” -Kinsey Millhone, I is for Innocent

I’m on the fence when it comes to being hostile towards men. On one hand, the first thing I always see is if I would sleep with him or not. I’ve come to accept this will always be a gut reaction to any guy that crosses my path, no matter the context. That being said, knowing this is the first step to work on changing it. Kinsey is kind enough to remind me of my own faults by pointing them out in others.

Kinsey has a very solid belief when it comes to men and money:

“Rule number one, first and foremost, above all else was financial independence. One should never, never, never be financially dependent on anyone, especially a man, because the minute you were dependent, you could be abused.” -Kinsey Millhone, D is for Deadbeat

Ever since I first read this, I knew it was something I needed to strive for myself. I have thankfully never been abused because of being financially dependent on someone, but I have been deeply stressed by financial dependence. One of the many, many layers for my cross-country move is this. I’m inching closer and closer to being able to support myself, and Kinsey is that spark that started that goal. The above quote has been a mantra of mine for some time now.

“I’m capable of screwing things up by trying to solve all the problems in advance instead of simply taking care of issues as they surface.” – Kinsey Millhone, D is for Deadbeat

I have this problem. More than I’d like to admit, honestly. I am a major planner, and try to set everything up so I never have to worry about anything. Life rarely works so automated though, and I tend to forget that. I tried this when I was a student at Parkside, and the result was academic suspension. For a short while, I was trying to do the same out here in Vermont, but I’m more mindful of how I’m organizing myself.

“If the Bad Guys don’t play by the rules, why should the good guys have to?” -Kinsey Millhone, O Is For Outlaw

This quote in particular opened my mind. I was raised on the concept that good guys were good guys because they were always right, and were always capable of defeating the bad guys. Recently, all the lines of “good” and “evil” have become severely blurred. “Right” and “Wrong” are much more complex and subjective than I’ve ever seen them before.

The most specific example I can give of relating to this quote is on the subject of guns. I used to be hardcore “guns are evil, we need to get rid of all guns.” Now I realize how utterly impossible that vision is. Thanks to friends of mine who own and use guns, I can see that guns aren’t inherently evil, but rather the person who wields the gun is evil. To that end, I have made it a life goal to learn how to shoot a gun, and practice with that a bit. Why write it off until I’ve tried it?

“Here’s my theory. Things get bad? Think about the last place you were happy and go there.” -Kinsey Millhone, P is for Peril

This has been another mantra for me since I first read this quote. I even go as far as having my own little universe to escape to when life stresses me out and I can’t exactly drive somewhere that makes me happy. In the real world however, it’s all of my online profiles that I can escape to. Hence why the title of this blog is “My Little Corner Of The Universe.”

“We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.” -Kinsey Millhone

Kinsey is very guarded – not many people get to know about her life, unless they gain her trust first. Until the internet and the advent of social media, this is how I’ve led my life, and my instinct at this point. Sure, I put a ton of stuff out on Facebook, this blog, etc, but at the end of the day my innermost thoughts and feelings stay with me. Only a handful of people get to hear about them. Once upon a time, I had a bigger support network. One day that network came crashing down around me, and I lost (in one way or another) all the people I trusted and cared the deepest about. That’s what led me into my death trap of failing out of college and having to move back in with my mom, even though I didn’t want to. I love my mom, but I never want to live that downfall ever again.

“People change, circumstances change, and what seems imperative one day becomes insignificant the next. The reverse is true as well.” Kinsey Millhone, S Is For Silence

On a deeper note: the above quote is something I’ve been trying to dig into more recently. I spent the year leading up to my move not just trying to make the cross-country move happen, but to move past my second relationship, to prepare myself for a new life, and above all else: define what my real passions are. While at my last job (and to a much smaller extent my current job) I’ve been trying to deny what I really want to spend my time doing, and just being distracted. By going back to community college in fall 2015, I need to take a hard look at what it is that I can commit myself to studying and getting better at. Otherwise, I’ll be just spinning my wheels and throwing away money again.

“If life is a play, then there’s a logical explanation, an underlying tale that pulls the whole of it together, however clouded it first appears.” -Kinsey Millhone, O Is For Outlaw

Kinsey is a very independent woman, and I’m a very independent man. As a child, I used to spend the bulk of my time by myself in my room, in my own little universe. Even now, I’m happiest when on my laptop on the internet, alone, or watching Netflix, alone. Kinsey’s independent streak is one that I relate to more than anyone else’s.

I love Kinsey’s notecard system for organizing information, and am working to make my own system like it. I also enjoy signing off on my blog posts just like how Kinsey does at the end of each novel.

“Our occupations bring out aspects of our personalities no one would ever dream of if they met us in civilian settings. -I is for Innocent

Kinsey is a licensed private investigator, and since Sue Grafton does such an amazing job at researching the relationships between the police and Private Investigators, it is through Kinsey that I have learned about the differences between the two. Knowing that the series is meant to be dramatic and Kinsey reminds us in every novel that the vast majority of her work is simple research in a library or steak outs for photos of people committing adultery, Kinsey started an interest of mine in the criminal justice system as a whole. At one point I was even considering criminal justice as a major because of her. Other characters, such as Don & Charlie Eppes, helped continue that interest.

Thank You Kinsey, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: David Pakman

Edited to add, February 2017:

It’s worth noting that my political viewpoints have shifted significantly from the time that I was a paid subscriber to The David Pakman Show. I haven’t actually seen or listened to the show since early/mid 2015. I no longer associate myself with the term “Independent Progressive” as remembered below. That being said, I still have great respect for David as a show host and still value his personality on the show. I wish him all the success in the world and perhaps will find myself a regular viewer of his again one day.


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Who is David Pakman?

David Pakman is the host of the radio/TV show, The David Pakman Show, which is a daily politics and news talk show that is filmed by David and his producer Louis, and airs on various networks internationally. It started as Midweek Politics in 2005, by David when he was still a student in Massachusetts. In 2010, David opened up the show to a membership base, which is the primary support system for the show.

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How did I discover David Pakman? 

I discovered the show in 2011 via iTunes suggestions, and became a paid/subscribed member in April 2013. Prior to discovering David Pakman, my interest in politics and the news was limited to only LGBT topics, and I was also limited to getting my news from JoeMyGod and Towleroad. I had little to no idea how politics and government function in the United States, except about which politicians were supportive of LGBT people and which ones were against equality. I also had a very black and white view of the world when it comes to news and politics – there was a “correct” and there was a “wrong.” I also saw the binary of Democrat and Republican, and felt that was the norm and few people fell outside this binary.

When I first heard The David Pakman show (the free version with commercials as a podcast), I struggled to understand most of the issues that David talked about. I didn’t understand the different issues that the nation was facing, and felt very out-of-my-box trying to wrap my mind around what they meant. It was only when I started hearing David talk about the struggle for marriage equality that I finally started to hear him with understanding ears.

I decided to continue listening to his show and see what he had to offer, and I’m glad I did.

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How does David inspire me?

I finally started to understand bits and pieces of the rest of the country after about two months of listening to his show, which I was able to start doing on a regular, consistent basis in October of 2012. I first started listening to where his sources were coming from (i.e. Raw Story, ThinkProgress, and many others) and trying to see David’s viewpoint on various issues through his own lens on the show. Through small quips over the course of several months, I began to understand David as a person and where he forms his beliefs from. From there, it’s easy to understand his commentary on issues he presents on his show.

On it’s face, I was able to follow and agree with most of the points that David presented on his show, and proceeded to add the sources he mentioned on the show to my RSS reader, so I could follow along in real-time. During this process, I realized how much passion I was gaining for following the news and watching events unfold through different written articles or as events were live Tweeted on Twitter. This is one of the basic reasons why I once considered finishing my bachelors degree in communications or journalism.

David strikes me as a very grounded person, who deeply analyzes the world around him. David is also well into his career, doing what he loves and making a full-time job out of it. Some things he has mentioned about the show bring my thoughts back to my brief time working in social media, and I can see the mistakes I made during that time, and how I can be better in it.

David has gone toe-to-toe with some people who I consider to be the “Voldemorts of our time” on his show. During his interviews with these people, David is able to maintain his cool, to speak rationally, and to stay intellectual in his discussions. Until I saw David doing this, I did not understand how anyone could have a rational discussion with these people. Examples of this can be found here, here, and here.

 

The above clip was the interview where I started to realize how being politically independent was the best course for not only myself, but much of the country.

It was after my move to Vermont that I started watching the video version of his show (with help from Apple TV), which is what airs across the world. It’s a little mind-blowing to actually see David talk into a microphone and gesture to images on-screen, after having heard him merely as a voice in my ear for well over a year. While keeping calm on TV is an obvious trait for any show host, it’s now something I can see instead of merely listen to.

With that being said, I feel that David’s commentary and demeanor on the show is his mark as a gentlemen, which I am striving to become. On a micro level, I like some of David’s fashion, which is another thing I’m learning from him. I want to look/dress like him on a daily basis. The Tie Guy has been showing me just I how can do that, but on a higher level.

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In summary, David has opened my eyes to areas of the world outside of the LGBT movement that are in need of change, or ongoing events that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. David has planted the seed of thinking critically about these areas of the world in my mind. For now, I continue to be a proud member of his show (and have the bumper sicker displayed on my car) and will always be listening to his opinion, which leads to me forming my own. It is why I use the label “Independent Progressive.” David has also taught me to look in new places for information, and always be seeking out fresh material in places I haven’t explored yet. I will push myself to stay grounded when discussing issues with others, and to act as he does on the show.

Thank you David, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Cecil Palmer

Who is Cecil Palmer?

So to begin this post, I have a video on a little background behind not only Cecil, but the fictional world he inhabits that is Nightvale. It’s entirely possible to understand this post without watching or knowing the show, but some references might be a little confusing.

So now that you’ve seen that, let me begin by starting with how I picture Cecil. As mentioned above, he has no defining characteristics, but there’s tons of fan art on the internet with various people’s images of him. There’s a few trends that I don’t see in my mind’s eye, such as a third eye on his forehead, but the images scattered throughout this post represent how I see him.

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I see Cecil as a man in his early to mid-30’s, of european descent, with naturally dark hair that he dyes to silver on a regular basis. A common theme in fan art is to have him wearing a white shirt with purple tie, and 50% of the time wearing a gray suit vest. I see all of these things about him. Almost always in fan art he has tattoos and/or piercings. I can see him having some tattoos not visible under his work clothes.

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Cecil has led an interesting life. He is the voice of the show (Welcome to Nightvale), as the announcer for Nightvale Community Radio. At times, Cecil will report on events as they are occurring. It is mentioned he often receives faxes and phone calls from listeners on events, as well as updates from his surviving interns out in the field. He lives in an apartment of currently unknown location in Night Vale and is also mentioned as owning a car.

He is very friendly and cheerful, and appears to be well acquainted with the folks around town. He is very fond and proud of the town, familiar with its intricate history and set of normalities, many of which differ from our reality (and much of the show’s entertainment source).

Cecil has been on several adventures over the course of the show. Occasionally he will go “on location” and report from the scene of the action, as opposed to his studio booth.

Cecil, as a self-proclaimed journalist, has no obvious political or religious leaning. While he almost always is quick to praise the City Council or the Sheriff’s Secret Police, he is also not afraid to call out crooked politicians for their wrongdoings.

A far more extensive bio (and my source for some of the wording in this post) for Cecil can be found here.

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What about Cecil inspires me?

Much of my inspiration comes from Cecil’s loving personality, and the pieces of him that I’ve presented already. Cecil is currently in a relationship with Carlos, a scientist at appeared in town in the pilot episode of the show, though they didn’t start dating until a year into the series. Cecil has often commented on how beautiful he finds Carlos, and many positive things he likes about Carlos.

I see myself as having a personality base similar to Cecil’s genial manner. I see Cecil as very grounded and logical, two traits of which I spend my time trying to emulate. Cecil cares very deeply for the town as a whole, and I feel the same way about where I am – I am very proud to call myself a Vermont resident, since I researched the area and spent time fighting to get here.

Cecil’s relationship with Carlos is a reflection on my newer views of relationships, or my take on “modern romance.”  I find the first 26 episodes of Cecil announcing his interest on air to Carlos, then the events of “One Year Later” so beautiful. I literally teared up when I first heard the worry in his voice during the episode. I felt my heartstrings tug as he talked the audience through Carlos’ admitting of his feelings at the Arby’s. The relationship Cecil has with Carlos is how I see my next relationship functioning. Even though I’m skeptical about this phrase as a longtime Dan Savage listener, it would make me so happy to say “And I fell in love instantly” about someone.

Cecil’s passion for his community, and his style of dress (as imagined by has fans in their visual art depictions) are other pieces of him that I want to emulate. The following is an image of the voice actor who portrays Cecil on the show and in live stage performances.

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The actor, Cecil Baldwin was interviewed in the blog, Dining With Strangers. Great insight into the man behind the voice before he was Cecil Palmer.

In summary, Cecil is the kind of person that I want to be about 7 years down the road. He’s comfortably started in his career, happily in love, and always growing as a person. Thank you Cecil, for being an inspiration!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

My Inspirations: Bianca Del Rio

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Who is Bianca Del Rio?

Bianca Del Rio is the winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. A self-proclaimed “clown in a dress,” Bianca showed incredible talent while on-screen during the show. In her introduction on the show, Bianca describes herself as “an insult comic like Don Rickles, in a dress, and prettier and not as old.”

Bianca originated in New Orleans and became a premier entertainer there in 1998. She has also worked in New York, with Lady Bunny and designing costumes for broadway. She is incredibly talented and at the premier party for Drag Race she crafted and assembled an outfit onstage in less than 5 minutes.

How did I discover Bianca?

I have watched Drag Race for all 6 seasons, but in those 6 years Bianca has been the biggest standout Drag Queen in terms of inspiration to me. Bianca is what I call “the most fully realized human being I’ve ever witnessed.” Now, I understand that when Bianca is on TV, there’s a certain amount of editing that takes place and best sides are shown more often than not. With that being said, Bianca showed more emotional intelligence than most people I’ve met in my life.

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What about Bianca inspired me?

Bianca has shown great strength in terms of conscientiousness, which is one of the big five personality traits. Wikipedia defines this as “A tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior.” Bianca showed all of these traits throughout the season of Drag Race, but also shows this in her live performances as seen on YouTube. Insult comics need to have a competitive yet interactive relationship with their audience, which takes serious self-discipline and real passion for the art.

During the show, Bianca talked about how it’s weird for someone to go around always saying “I love you” to everyone they meet. I used to be one of those kinds of people, but hearing Bianca talk about why it doesn’t make sense to do that got me thinking about it. I’ve come to realize that you can throw around the phrase “I love you” all you want, but the more you make it common in your own vernacular, the less special it can become to the people you really mean it to when you say it. Since then, I have made a point of reserving this phrase for the people in my life who have earned the right to hear me say those words to them.

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Bianca also managed to balance her “angry, hateful, cunt” image while also becoming a mentor to the other competitors on the show. Specifically, Bianca was something of a mother/father figure to both Adore Delano and Trinity K Bonet – sharing a waist cincher with Adore and encouraging Trinity to break out of her shell. Bianca has talked about how she’s repeating the things that were said to her when she was starting out and growing/learning. Many things Bianca has said to her competitors that have helped them grow all echoed things that have been said to me throughout the years by various people. Hearing Bianca say these things on-screen helped solidify many of life’s lessons inside my head. In this sense, Bianca has really helped me to grow and become a stronger person.

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Specifically, in seeing Bianca on TV – from entering the workroom for the first time, through the demonstrations of expertly executed comedy, to the finely crafted costume work, I was given someone to look up to and strive to become. In final 4 months leading up to my cross-country move in 2014 from Wisconsin to Vermont, I endeavored to hold myself to as high of a standard as possible. This continued into my current job, and I express to both my bosses and teammates that I am always striving to be like Bianca Del Rio. In other words – I continue to strive to present myself as professionally and organized as Bianca.

Through the magic of YouTube I can see Bianca without the filter of national TV requirements. It is there that I can see just how strong of a character she is and how solid her comedic art is. In watching Bianca on YouTube, my takeaway is that I need to stay true to myself above everything else. Continuing to “do you” as my boss tells me, is what’s going to continue to take me to greater heights in life.

In short, Bianca has taught (or reminded) me:

  • To always hold myself to the highest possible standard.
  • To use language as one of my most powerful tools.
  • To combat more difficult times with the magic of comedy.
  • To take a mature, professional approach to my life endeavors at all times.

What does it mean to “Master One’s Craft?”

Many of my other blog posts link to this post for this reason. Bianca is the prime examples of the phrase, “mastering one’s craft” in my opinion. Ever since I started school, from Kindergarten all the up through my college years, the whole point was to find some skill or talent or interest, and constantly strive to perfect yourself in that aspect. In my eyes, Kai is the perfect Beyblader. Charlie Epps is the perfect mathematician. The Tie Guy executes perfect men’s fashion sense. Armin Van Buuren is the perfect DJ so on, and so on, and so on.

I may not have found which craft I want to master, per se, but Bianca’s level as America’s Next Drag Superstar is a good guide to how much I want to master my own life.

Getting to meet Bianca was an experience of a lifetime. It was humbling to know that she took the time to read what I’ve written here, and that she enjoyed it. She added something that I’ve been working more into my life as well: Trust your instincts. They are there for a reason.

Thank You, Bianca for being an inspiration to me!

Respectfully Submitted,

Lukas Condie

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


This is my favorite poem of all time. Having spent the first 18 years of my life living under a rock in regards to world knowledge, this was such an ideal vision for me. I finally got to put a little bit of it to my life when I moved to Vermont. I continue to be inspired by it, and emulate it’s vision in my own life.