Barbarella
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Any dolt with half a brain can see that humankind has gone insane. — Dr. Horrible

I tried to hide my satisfaction when Janet ordered the burger. I was thrilled she had placed such trust in my recommendation, and I was trying to play it cool, but it was difficult — this was Janet’s first time at Starlite, and her looking to me for menu guidance made me feel empowered. I was so caught up with glee when she took her first bite and declared my suggestion a success that I didn’t think to conceal my grin.

Each of us was reaching for our quarter of the toffee ice cream sandwich when the subject came up. This time, it was David who found a way to steer the conversation to its inevitable point — had they heard of it? Upon glimpsing the first micro-expressions that disclosed our friends’ ignorance of the subject, David and I lit up like a couple of born-agains presented with sinners in need of saving. Like any couple with a higher calling, my man and I were impatient to usher our friends to the light. We professed the greatness of the subject with which they were unfamiliar, stressed the altruism of our mission.

“You have to come over now, tonight,” said David, seeking to close while emotions ran high. Andrew hesitated. He was on the tail end of an ear infection and had to be up early in the morning. David began to push, but I recognized a more effective path to sealing the deal and seized it. “Forget about tonight,” I said with nonchalance; I pulled out my iPhone and tapped the calendar icon. “We’ll set a time that works best for you.” Once I’d entered their names into my calendar for Saturday, I returned my phone to my purse and beamed. “I can’t believe you haven’t seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!” Janet and Andrew agreed not to look it up online — their introduction would be uncontaminated, and I was being trusted to administer it.

When it comes to developmental benchmarks, I’ve always been a late bloomer. I was 15 when I got my period, 19 when I lost my virginity, both years later than most of my peers. Throughout grade school, my friends nursed obsessions (mad crushes on Donnie from New Kids on the Block, a veiled appreciation for the Teletubbies). To be into something is to adopt that thing’s philosophy, what it stands for; its very essence. In this area, I bloomed early — for most of my fifth year of life, my parents tell me, I would only answer to “Wonder Woman.” My memory is vague, made up mostly of the Underoos in which I lived. That costume, flimsy as it was, was enough to make me feel like the strong, pretty lady on TV. Once in my star-spangled panties, I could even imagine myself with blue eyes.

Comic-Con showed me the extreme to which “into” could go if I had continued my Underoos habit into adulthood. Sure, I could quote every line from The Color Purple, but it had never occurred to me to try to assume Shug’s, Sofia’s, or Celie’s identity. I didn’t go to Comic-Con for the comics; I had no interest in figurines, lectures, or autographed posters. I went to marvel at the throngs of geeks, at the ingenuity of cardboard and polyester costumes, the diligence of each wannabe Wolverine, and the faithful emulation of hundreds of other characters I didn’t recognize. I appreciated their dedication.

Janet and Andrew arrived at our place on the appointed evening. Nervous with anticipation, I forced myself to relax while we nibbled Manchego and sipped Cabernet. A week before, I’d screened the show for my father — things hadn’t gone exactly as I’d imagined they would. Dad was more confused than enthralled, more disconcerted than amazed. And this from the man who once told me he thinks there’s something inherently wrong with anyone who doesn’t like musicals. In my mind, Dr. Horrible was the quintessential musical. I wanted my friends to have an experience like mine, only enhanced by my behind-the-scenes knowledge.

As we took our seats on the couches, I gave Janet and Andrew the spiel I’d given Dad, a few others before him, and soon to be just about everyone else I know. “This was made by the guy who did Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.” I didn’t mention that I’d never seen an episode of Buffy, or that I’d only watched Firefly online as a result of my newfound obsession with Dr. Horrible’s supreme creator, Joss Whedon. “They wrote and shot this during the writers’ strike — all the people involved donated their time, and they made the whole thing available online for free. How cool is that?”

What I said next was risky because, depending on the audience, I stood a chance of coming across a tad bit obsessed. But these were trusted friends, and I knew if anyone could understand what it’s like to be gripped by something wonderful, it was a couple who collect Dunnies, those multiple artist-designed rabbit-y toys that happen to be featured at Comic-Con. “When David and I drove back from L.A. last weekend, we blasted the soundtrack and sang along. And when it was finished, we looked at each other and decided without a word to start it over and do it again.”

I breathed a sigh of relief at the lack of judgment in their faces. I smiled goofily. The moment was at hand. “Ready?” I pressed play. During the title sequence, I said, “Wait until you hear what a great singer Neil Patrick Harris is.” As the story unfolded, it became increasingly difficult for me to refrain from singing along. I pressed my lips together and stole glances at my friends, checking to make sure they got this joke or caught that line. Janet was a step ahead of me — she pointed out details that I hadn’t caught in countless viewings, like the first-aid poster on the wall in Dr. Horrible’s lab.

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Comments

magicsfive Feb. 18, 2009 @ 3:28 p.m.

lmfao...barb u are priceless, and how i wish i had made it into your circle of friends before leaving san diego :) keep up the good work! xoxo

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 18, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

So happy you enjoyed this glimpse of my immense geekiness, Magicsfive! Oh, and it is immense. My geekiness. Just sayin'. ;)

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catty1 Feb. 19, 2009 @ 3:10 p.m.

I knew I liked you for a reason. Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long blog is sublime. Economic forces have kept me from getting the dvd-I envy your singing commentary knowledge!

You'll have to borrow my complete set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there's a musical episode in season 6. Oh yes. And it's DEVOON!

Also, on YouTube, NPH and Jason Segel on Megan Mullally's short lived talk show burst into a duet from Les Mis. Acapella. Okay, stopping now, too much geek showing.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 19, 2009 @ 3:51 p.m.

I am SO happy you pointed that out for me, I'd never seen it. I know EVERY word to Les Miserables, and they nailed it! Oh, what an afternoon treat for me, thank you, Catty1!

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catty1 Feb. 19, 2009 @ 4:15 p.m.

You are most welcome-gave me goosebumps the first (mumble) times I watched it so I had to share.

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MsGrant Feb. 20, 2009 @ 9:53 a.m.

Barbarella - have you ever considered going back to school and getting a MFA? You have a natural inclination toward the arts that you don't see everyday. Not that a piece of paper would be needed to validate your already considerable knowledge, but you could be a real, much-needed contributor to San Diego's dearth of fine arts.

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JohnnyVegas Feb. 20, 2009 @ 11:47 a.m.

Barbarella - you look very different in the video from the Reader mug shot. What gives with that??????

Might be the lipstick and those things in your hair.

You should use that video cap for your reader shot :)

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 20, 2009 @ noon

MsGrant, I'd have to go the first time in order to "go back." ;) Is being geeky a natural inclination for the arts? Thank you for the generous vote of confidence in my abilities, it puts a smile on my (ahem, Johnny) currently lipstick-free face. In seriousness, though, Johnny, I'm sure it's a combination of lighting (it's glarey in my office) and makeup. Oh, and feathers. I always look different when I wear feathers. :D

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bluenwhitegokart Feb. 21, 2009 @ 4:49 a.m.

Barb: I went to Palomar college on the 6 year plan, then transferred to Penn State for my upper division courses. College isn't the be all/end all, but I don't regret for a moment the time it took - retrospectively, I would have borrowed the money and just have gotten it done - nor the money I spent. Oh, and I graduated with highest honors in '99 at age 44, so there.

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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 22, 2009 @ 1:01 p.m.

Congratulations on your hard-earned degree, Bluenwhitegokart! My aunt got hers after 50. I was going to University of Phoenix when I reached an impasse -- continue and accrue a ton of debt, or stop and cut my losses, when it seemed a degree wasn't going to further me in my chosen career.

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MsGrant Feb. 24, 2009 @ 7:25 a.m.

I fought my inner geek for years! When I finally realized that I was not cool, it was like the flood gates opening! Geeky IS cool!!

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Joe Poutous Feb. 25, 2009 @ 6:56 a.m.

I have no inner geek. I've gone professional!

  • Joe IT Systems Manager
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Barbarella Fokos Feb. 25, 2009 @ 12:02 p.m.

So true, Joe: IT Systems Manager? You really embraced that geek and let it out! ;) Geek is chic.

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carlybond Sept. 16, 2009 @ 8:53 p.m.

I just registered for this site to say thank you for writing a story about Dr Horrible. i watched it after reading your article...being a musical hater...then going through a bad break up came to find it again and surprisingly the soundtrack has brought me back to life!

i just thought you should know how greatly your article has turned around a sa turn of events and thank you.

so...

THANKS!

cb

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