Earl is an LA-born actor/improviser that wants desperately to be loved. Hah, not really. He'll eat all your leftovers if you're not careful. He's done it before. Tweets at @earl_baylon. Earl Baylons at earlbaylon.com. Tumblrs at Nerdoholic.

Artist’s rendition of Agent Earl as a child.

Before I continue with this post, I want to give you a quick disclaimer. I am writing this drunk. So, if I happen to say (or type, rather) anything that is offensive in any way, please forgive me for it’s just the alcohol talking. And if alcohol=truth, as so many postulate, then I must say sorry, it’s just the real me talking. Also, consider this training for a possible project that the Agents of GUARD have in the works. I know, that’s a bit cryptic, but hey… spoilers, as Dr. Song would say.

Geek Confession #1: I’ve never felt ostracized for being a geek.

Odd, right? Recently, I was doing extra work on a commercial set (my first time ever! It was exciting!) and after our day of work, I mentioned to the other background people that I wrote for a geek blog. One of them asked me an unknowingly profound question.

“Oh, really? So what are you areas of geekery?” he asked.

I used to secretly do this for all my classmates.  Just kidding... maybe.
I used to secretly do this for all my classmates. Just kidding… maybe.

I thought about it for a second, and replied, “Video Games and Doctor Who.” I suppose that’s really the Cliff’s Notes version of what I geek out about. The truth is, it’s a bit of everything. While those are definitely two of things I’m really into right now, there are a ton more subjects that I really love. I love fantasy novels, especially the Dragonlance books written by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, and the Dragon’s Gold Trilogy by Piers Anthony and Robert Margroff. I love tabletop RPGs, mostly D&D 2.5 ed. I love RPG video games as well. My favorites: the Final Fantasies, World of Warcraft, Golden Sun, and Fire Emblem (I suppose that’s more of a tactical role playing game, but it’s an RPG nonetheless). I used to be total Shounen otaku status, cuz… giant robots, FTW! I am a massive proponent of buildiing your own PC, and peforming all self repairs. I’ve played classical guitar since I was 9, and am a total fan of well-made guitars. My favorite guitar is still my Seagull S6+CW with it’s nice, warm cedar solid top and the 1.75” nut width. I switched out the TUSQ saddle for a cowbone one, and it almost sparkles with a new set of John Pearse Phosphor Bronze Lights. I love cooking… not only because I love eating good food, but because I love the process itself. It’s all chemistry, and that turns me on. It’s about management of heat, and how different reagents work together to create a desired flavor profile. My favorite movie: Conan the Barbarian… the John Milius version of course. That Basil Poledouris score is quite possibly one of the best collections of music in the history of cinema. Also, there’s improv. Improvisation comedy. This is what I analyze day in and day out, every day of every week. Why things work. How they work. Why doesn’t this scene work? Why was that funny? How do I improve? What role does status play in the dynamic of the scene, and how does that, in turn, lend to the comedy of the piece? On top of all that, I was one of the smart kids in my class. I took every Honors and AP class possible. Hell, my senior year in high school, I had to take summer school to fulfill my art requirement, because I wanted to take two different bio classes: Medical Biology and AP Biology. I went on to major in Biological Sciences at UCI, with a concentration of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology. My favorite class in college: Parasitology. Even now, I’m deathly afraid of walking in stagnant water in my ancestral nation, because of Schistosomiasis Philippinensis. Nerd. This is, by no means, an exhaustive list. It is merely a snippet of my fandom, meant to illustrate the depth and breadth of my geekery.

I know, you’re thinking, “Some of that isn’t geeky at all.” I would say, “Au contraire…”

D. B. Weiss (whose name you might recognize as one the writers/producers of Game of Thrones), in his novel, Lucky Wander Boy, defined a geek as:

“a person, male or female, with an abiding, obsessive, self-effacing, even self-destroying love for something besides status”

I tend to agree with this definition. It might be the most accurate I have ever read. As such, all of those aforementioned points fall squarely into geek territory. If given the choice, I would give up the low quotient of social status I already have, if it meant I could continue doing the things I enjoy.

It has been like this most of my life. I should reiterate, however, that I have never felt ostracized because of my geeky tendencies.

I call shenanigans!  ...there. that's much better.
I call shenanigans! …there. that’s much better.

I don’t know if this lessens my “geek cred” because I don’t hold that badge of honor of ever having to defend the fact that I loved Dungeons & Dragons or Magic: The Gathering to anyone. I’m sure some people out there will spare no judgement.

Maybe it’s just been circumstance. Maybe I’ve never had to deal with it because I’ve never been found out. Whenever I played D&D in high school, it was always off campus, and we used to play MTG in the bio teacher’s classroom during breaks and lunch. (Shoutout to Mr. Kehoe!) I would spend weekends playing my favorite board games back then, HeroQuest and DragonStrike. No one ever caught me.

Or maybe they did. Maybe they just didn’t care. Maybe I was too insignificant to even bother with.

Except, that wasn’t really the case. Again, in high school, I was Senior Class President, on the football team, and I was Basketball on Parade King – which was, at my high school, like Homecoming, but during basketball season.

I really don’t know. Maybe it was the fact that I was unapologetic about who I was. Maybe people were talking behind my back about what a fat, nerdy, slob I was (I retrospectively get this distinct feeling about some people in college). I don’t know for sure.

All I know, is that I never once felt that I had to hide who I was for the sake of being popular.

Maybe it was just the fact that the people I grew up with were awesome, amazing, accepting individuals.

Who knows?

In the end, does that make me lesser in the eyes of other geeks? Am I even a geek at all by that standard? Would I have continued with my fandoms in the face of social ridicule? Perhaps. Unfortunately, this isn’t a Dickens story, and I can’t ask The Ghost of Earldom Past to glimpse into my hypothetical personal history.

Maybe, just maybe, I happened to grow up in one of those rare communities were being a nerdy kid was the measure of social status.

After all, my elementary school was ~85% children from an 1st generation, immigrant, Asian household. And truthfully, education was the #1 thing stressed by parents. It was never a question of whether or not I was going to college. It was a question of where I was going to college. In this community, smarts=status.   In terms of socioeconomic status, this wasn’t even an uppity neighborhood. At best, my elementary school neighborhood was average-lower middle class.

I’m not saying that this way of looking at things is better… at all.  This cultural viewpoint, after all, has its share of pitfalls.

Maybe my twitter friend  Kate is spot on.  Maybe gender was a factor.  She could be right, after all… she is Irish.

Unfortunately, I lack the cognitive stamina for correlative data analysis.- you know, considering the fact that I’m drunk (tipsy now) and it’s 6:00AM, Pacific Standard Time. I suppose we’re going to have to leave this one up to conjecture.

What say you?

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