As you may know… I’m a proud Geek.
(I’ve also been told, in a loving fashion, I’m a Nerd. And I’ve also heard that I’m “a Dork… but in a good way!”)
That wasn’t always used as a badge of honor, though. When you’re young, awkward, and just wanting to be liked… and people are saying it with a sneer in their voice and a condescending look in their eye… you’d prefer to be anything BUT a Geek. Because then it sounds synonymous with Outcast, Aberration, Unliked, Unwanted, “Oh-My-God-Just-Go-Away-You-Pathetic-Piece-of-Nothing”, and so much else.
It’s hard to comprehend exactly WHY that is. Being a Geek is a trait connected to the attribute of Intelligence… and we are really the only species on this planet that actually *uses* our Intelligence to the degree we can. Our brains are larger, more defined than other animals… we have short-term and long-term memories, we can use reason and logic, we have a sense of morality… and it’s because of our brains and those functions, that enable us to live and adapt to almost ANY environment that we can encounter. As such, we are not slaves to Mother Nature, and can actually exist despite some of her harsher efforts.
It is an incredible achievement of Evolution, God, Fate, Luck, Buddha, or whatever you believe in… that we *can actually BE a Geek*. (Whoever is responsible… they done good!)
So, it’s odd that amazing achievement singles out some people over others… and not in a good way.
Don’t forget or ignore the fact that every human being on this planet can (and does) find pleasure solely in the acquisition of new knowledge.
That’s right… *everyone* has fun with facts. It’s obvious that when you meet someone that really likes Science Fiction or Film History… they’re going to know a lot about it. They’ll probably have a few hundred facts that you won’t give a damn about.
But exactly how different is it from the tough, jersey-wearing sports fan that knows all the names of all the players on his favorite football team? (Even the 4th stringers!) Or who’s leading the league in touchdown passes… or knows about all the college players that are up for the annual draft… AND has opinions on how they’ll adjust to the big leagues? Guess what? They got themselves a bunch of facts, numbers and statistics that the majority of the world doesn’t give a flying freeball about.
Or what about the person that spouts off memorized book and passage numbers from the Bible?
Or the Golf enthusiast who knows par for every hole and every course that Tiger Woods is playing on?
Or the guy that knows the name of every Playboy Playmate of every month from 1983 to today? (Actually… that one’s kinda creepy)
Or the tough-talking, tattooed grease-monkey mechanic that “knows everything about engines and cars”?
Or the gal that knows all the plotlines and episodes of Friends?
Are we allowed to get in a group and point at them, yelling:
What makes some subjects more “socially acceptable” than others? In America, someone who’s a fan of Doctor Who is considered a Nerd and a Geek, and maybe a bit shunned for being “weird”. Yet in several other countries around the world… the show (old version and new) is wildly popular. I hear Steven Spielberg himself, arguably the greatest filmmaker of the last 35 years, is a fan of Doctor Who. Would you call him a Nerd to his face? Or does the fact that he can buy and sell you 900 times over give him some leeway? Hell, I’ve seen intelligent, incredibly Hot women tell me how hooked they are on World of Warcraft.
We’re all Geeks. It just depends on exactly what you’re a Geek about. There is a subject that you know a lot about, that other people don’t (and don’t even care about)… but you derive a lot of pleasure from it. Doesn’t matter what it is… but that’s what you’re a Geek about. Even if your knowledge in it is limited… the pursuit of that activity/show/subject is enough to get your Geek on. I say… Embrace it. It’s healthy… it gives us an escape… a pleasurable option in life to relax within.
Me… I’ve got plenty of Geek to go around.
The aforementioned Doctor Who… I’m a fan. I watched the old series a little as a kid, but I was given a more thorough introduction in college… and I find it immensely fun. My favorite of “The Doctors” is Tom Baker… he had the big curly hair and the 13-foot long scarf. Sure, the acting wasn’t the best… but they were earnest, and had fun. Yeah, the sets wobbled… but the whole show has a “charm” to it… that just makes it endlessly watchable to me.
As for the new series… some of the best writing and effects I have ever seen on television. It’s absolutely genius!
Star Wars… I’ve talked about before. Admittedly, my enthusiasm for it has dropped off a bit… because sadly, the story *didn’t* end with the 6th movie… No, George Lucas is continually beating a dead horse… insisting there’s still milk in that teat. Cripes on Toast, man… just let it die! But the originals are just so great…
Harry Potter… I didn’t get into it until after the fourth book came out… and just before the first movie. It was my Graduate advisor, of all people, insisting that I read them… and once I did… I was hooked. Those books are like crack! I read the first four straight in a row. I ordered the fifth book, got it when it came out… but didn’t read it for about a month or two. Sixth and seventh books… read them the days they came out. I revel in most any opportunity to talk about and dissect that story… and my favorite character is actually Neville Longbottom… I was so glad he got to shine in the last book! (It’s not that much… but enough. He kicked ass! Hells yeah!)
Horror… well, I’ve also talked about this before. It still applies… I love it, but most of it sucks.
Science Fiction… a lot like Horror… there’s a lot of crap out there. But when it’s good… it’s brilliant! (And there’s quite of bit of underrated stuff out there) What makes most of it crap… is that the stuff they call science fiction, *isn’t really* Science Fiction. I may have to do a whole post on this sometime.
Theatre… probably my first official Geek label. It was really the first thing I found that got me on my way to actually finding an identity for myself… and even so, I think I’m a bit of an anomalous freak amongst Theatre Folk. For one: A lot are touchy-feely, and say, “I’m in Theatre, I don’t have a personal bubble”… but I do. I’ve been told several times over the years that I’m “not a typical theatre person”… whether they meant it as a compliment or insult, I’m not always sure. And while I usually know what I’m talking about… as I’ve been studying it about half my life, and even taught it for awhile… there’s STILL a lot I don’t know. (Musicals for one… I’m not *that* learned in.)
Movies… while I attain that I’m not a “film buff”… I do know what I like, and like to see it often... and I have opinions on it. When I worked on the fringes of the industry, and trying to get into it… I did learn a lot, and was exposed to a lot of older movies and shows that I wasn’t previously aware of. And whenever I watch a movie or a new show… usually right after, I hop on IMDB or Wikipedia and look up any trivia or notes they have about it… just to find out more about it. Hmmm… maybe that *would* make me a film buff… I just think that’s a silly title.
Graphic Novels… This is kind of intersecting with movies, these days. Normally referred to as “comics”… but I think this is more accurate. I haven’t collected actual comic books in several years… I wait until they collect several issues together and throw them in a trade paperback, otherwise known as “graphic novels”. Sure, maybe it’s a little more expensive… but I get a complete story… with a beginning, middle and end. And there’s no chance of missing a middle part of the story, by having that chapter sell out before I can get to it. Plus, there are a lot of stories made FOR the graphic novel format… and there’s nothing “comic” about them. There are a lot of darker, more adult-style stories out there. Hell, anything written by Alan Moore I’m willing to read… he’s just that good of a writer. Same with Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek, and the Granddaddy master: Will Eisner (who is probably responsible for elevating the world of comics to Art).
But at the same time… every now and then, I like to kick back with an old Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comic (written by Carl Barks… without him, there would never have been Ducktales). They’re just so much fun!
RPGs… Yep… Role-Playing Games. No, I don’t mean Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft. This is not computer or video games… this is the actual and original meaning of Role-Playing Games… where you actually play a role. You have dice and character sheets, and actually sit around with friends and interact and engage your imagination in ways that video games can’t. It’s more social than computer pixels… and more interesting to me. If you have a problem or an obstacle in a computer game, it can only be solved by doing one of the solutions that has been pre-programmed in by the developers… which is limited, no matter how many options they give you. In a real pen-and-paper RPG… the options are whatever you can imagine. The inventor of the obstacle may actually have no idea HOW you’d get past it… just wants to see you try. It’s basically Co-operative Improvisation Storytelling… and I’m surprised more people in the Theatre/Filmmaking world are not involved in it. (Though it is gaining some credibility these days… as filmmakers and actors like Jon Favreau, Wil Wheaton and Vin Diesel have all talked favorably about their past involvements with the hobby) I actually credit this hobby for having a significant impact on my personal writing and storytelling skills. Don’t knock it till you try it.
And no… I’m not a Satanist, I don’t know how to do Black Magic, nor do I think I’m a Vampire. Sheesh… And for the record, I’ve never gotten lost in Steam Tunnels. (Okay, I have… but NOT for purposes of gaming)
Board Games… Because you wouldn’t put Monopoly in the RPG category, that’s for sure. I have myself a nice collection of board games. Hell, I’ve got almost 10 different versions/variations of the game Clue (my all-time favorite classic board game). Plus several horror-themed ones (perfect to pull out around Halloween)… some collectible games… and still have several games that I’ve owned for awhile, but haven’t had the chance to play yet. Yeah… this probably is the hobby that takes up the most room in my house. Ooch!
And my newest hobby:
Letterboxing… it’s very simple and very cheap to do. Since discovering it a short ways back… I think it’s just the Bee’s Knees… and can’t believe it took me this long to discover it. It’s like Geocaching… only you don’t need a GPS. All you need is a rubber stamp (either buy one, or make your own for cheap), and a logbook. Then you go to this website (www.letterboxing.org), and look for “clues” in your area. You follow the instructions on the clues (they can be very direct or very cryptic… mostly they lead you through public parks and hiking trails), where you eventually find a small box… and inside is ANOTHER rubber stamp and another log book. You use *your* stamp on that logbook… use that stamp on *your* logbook, sign and date it with a little message… and put it all back for the next person to find.
It’s basically a treasure hunt! How cool is that? When I was first told about it… I was intrigued, because I never heard of it before. So, I got a little book… made up a crude rubber stamp… and grabbed a clue off the website… and went to see for myself.
It was right there… just where it said it would be. And this particular one had been there for months. It was so neat… and I couldn’t believe that something like that could be there, and not be vandalized or taken away. I got such a kick out of it… I felt like I was Five! I loved it!
I’ve even made my book a little more elaborate. All you’re really supposed to do is stamp your book, write where you found it, and move on. Me… I’ve been adding photos of the locations and hikes to mine. Making it into a little art project/collage-type-thing… and gets me back doing a little photography. Gives it kind of a “storybook” feel to it… is an easy reminder of the experiences of getting each one… and also makes it easier to illustrate to others what exactly the hell it is I’m doing on my weekends.
More than anything… it’s a great little excuse to go for a hike, and get a little exercise. I think that’s a wonderful byproduct of a “Geek Hobby”. Plus, I’m having fun… so bite me.
So… that’s my Geekness (or at least a good portion of it).
How about you?
What are YOU a Geek about?