Episode #50 – Reality TV

January 29, 2010

Reality TV is a pretty surreal thing. People are drawn to it because, as is the draw with all mythology, they feel their lives are being illuminated by the stories being told. The insidious thing about reality TV is they’re mythologies people actually believe are representations of real life. But these slices of life are actually highly edited and staged distortions of already contrived and manipulated situations.

Theoretically, a reality TV show is the ideal format for sociological documentary film-making. I’ve never seen a single one that legitimately falls under that category. Even beyond the set-up of competition-based shows like America’s Next Top Model being absurd, the fact people are on reality TV shows specifically to become famous distorts their behaviour into broad parodies of human nature.

Which is, of course, exactly why people love them. It’s the spiritual equivalent of a McDonald‘s cheeseburger.

LINKS: The Spampersand; Ari’s reality TV related thoughts.

Last week we embarrassed ourselves by not recognizing Michelle “Ro Laren” Forbes as Admiral “Mole Sauce” Cain. In our defence though, the below image  shows how 20 years, a facelift and lack of prosthetic make-up can disguise a person’s identity.

ro laren vs admiral cain

Okay. She’s entirely recognizable. We suck. Completely. And maybe she didn’t have a facelift.

Also sucking is most of Season 2.5. Some of the worst television we’ve ever seen (including reality TV and the first two seasons of TNG) can be found in this season. “Black Market” and “Scar” are inexcusable examples of missed potential and outside-of-canon continuity mistakes. We still have faith things get better with Season 3. This show is all about having faith.

Episode 46 – Internet Dating

January 2, 2010

The oft alluded to Kathie What Introduced Mandi to Fanfiction Apparently dropped by the Hurdle Hut to discuss the hurdles inherent in internet dating. Mandi and I had success (finding each other) on the Plenty of Fish website. Kathie, er, not so much.

There’s various hurdles associated with dating online. One is that it’s perceived to simply not work. And that’s often true smaller centers.

I tried it when I lived in Nanaimo (pop. approx. 72,000 at the time) and there was nobody online in my area I was interested in. At all. Remotely. And it wasn’t just physical type, age or having kids, it was social class, interests, attitudes, etc.

There were only about 60 people registered with the site I was using in my area, but was I being too picky? If there’s one thing you should be picky about, it’s a life partner. Being in a larger center allows you to be as picky as you want. Here in Toronto, pop. 2.5 million, there are plenty (of fish, so to speak).

For many people, the main hurdle surrounding online dating seems to be the implication they are desperate. Which is understandable since television leads us to believe we’re meant to meet our mates in the office or at the bar and to do so with relative ease. If these are the only places you’re looking for love, you’re bound to start feeling desperate at some point in your single life.

But people shouldn’t feel bad about being desperate. It’s the human condition. Really, we’re here on Earth to hook-up so it’s only natural to feel a sense of desperation if you’re not in a relationship. Some might argue there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. I wouldn’t argue that, but some might.

I have, however, always found it interesting people are so shy to express their desire for a mate. When it’s literally the most natural thing in the world.

Mandi says: “I think there are a lot of people who say that they want to be single, when really they’d rather be in a relationship.

There are also people who are embarassed that they’re not (or have never been) in a relationship and so they never bring it up or alternately talk about it all the time. I think some unhappy single people who have never been in a relationship often blame their singleness for their unhappiness. It’s often their unhappiness that causes their singleness. It’s a vicious, vicious circle.

I have certainly been in the position when I believed that if I were only to be in a relationship things would be better. It takes being in a bad relationship to realize that sometimes single is better.”

But there’s an actual nerd hurdle associated with the online dating world as well. I know people who actually view using a computer as being incredibly dorky. Anything other than barely knowing how to use email is, to them, high nerdery and therefore online dating is akin to picking someone up at a Star Trek convention.

These are, I should mention, people in their early forties at the youngest. I doubt many people younger than 35 would have a nerd hurdle regarding internet dating just from the online aspect. They’re also probably a bit more savvy and informed that you won’t “only meet perverts” on the internet.

Not that their aren’t perverts and players on internet dating sites. But bars, nightclubs and other traditional hunting grounds tend to be populated with the same percentage of emotionally broken sex addicts.

Ultimately Kathie’s lack of luck online was a boon for us as we got to spend New Years Eve with her. As shown in the above photo—three lame nerds getting drunk watching Dr. Horrible on a Mac.

Episode #45 – Elf, Actually (X-mas movies)

December 23, 2009

Christmas is a time of love and peace and joy and goodwill and massive movie hurdles. Why are Christmas movies so freakin’ terrible? Why are they so freakin’ wonderful? How is it they can be both at the same time? It’s a Christmas miracle.

Speaking of wonderful and terrible, the below Christmas special is something… uh, special. Forward to the 0m45s mark for the good bits. “Is snow!”

What would make it better though? Badgers!

For those who might be interested: a 192kbs stereo version of the easter egg song (Wookie Toucher) can be downloaded HERE.

Coming to terms:Winter ’09

December 9, 2009

Search terms that lead people to this blog and, hopefully, to our podcast are always interesting. To us, at least. Looks like zombies are still interesting to a lot of people. Note: numbers for similar searches have been combined.

This week’s top/best searches:

borg queen 25
zombies 14
nerd hurdles mandi 5
twat tattoo 2
zombies street 1
pictures of fur trade 1
“handsome zombies” 1
fit together toys 1
nerd of the month 1
wow obsession 1
video gamer stereotype 1

Top/best this month:

zombies 240
borg queen 130
empire records costume 3
geektionary 2
crusher picard 1
doucheois 1
zombies zombies zombies 1
regretsy reaver 2
21 days later zombie 1
kind zombie 1
+”nerd hurdles” +podcast +”project potter” 1
realy zombie 1
ridiculous cakes 1

 All time top ten:

zombies 662
borg queen 132
zombie 61
christina aguilera zombie 59
zombie people 31
28 days later zombie 28
zombie wedding 21
data star trek 19
twin peaks 19
worf star trek 19
day of the dead tattoos 17

Top five posts/pages (all time):

Mandi 901  
Episode #21: Zombies 848  
Jakob 657  
Geektionary 448  
Star Trek: The Twin Peaks Generation 345

Episode #42 – Sexy Hurdles

December 4, 2009

Seth and his girlfriend are cute. Mandi’s an asshole.

They say sex sells. In a recent study, the improbably named academic Anenome Cerridwen says it doesn’t. At least not at the box office. Reading the article about the study (I did not read the study), got me thinking about my own box office habits. It dawned on me, it’s true, I do tend to shy away from films with overt sexuality.

Is it because amped-up sexuality is often the earmark of a low-grade b-movie cheesefest (in which case it might actually be a selling point). Or are we, as a society, more prudish than we’re lead to believe?

I don’t consider myself particularly prudish , but my viewing habits seem to be. Perhaps it’s because we’re so bombarded with sexual images these days, sex in films simply isn’t the draw it traditionally was. We don’t need to look to an R-rated movie for softcore titillation anymore, we just need to stand in line at the grocery store and look at the covers of the gossip mags. Is it a case of familiarity breeding contempt?

It just may be the case I actually am a bit prudish. I’m a big fan of the Hard Case Crime publishing imprint. They’ve been reprinting classic pulp and noir novels, alongside new works by the old masters, for a few years now. They’re delightful but there’s one thing that turns me off about them—the sordid cover art faithfully rendered in lurid pulp fiction style.

A typical example is titled The Corpse Wore Pasties. If found this on the shelf at the library, where I get my Hard Case fix, my first thought would be “hilarious” but my second would be “too bad I can’t read this one on the subway.”

Sometimes I hurdle the embarrassment of reading what essentially looks like a porn novel in public, but I’m always aware of the eyes of my fellow commuters judging me. Of course, that’s all in my head. Commuters generally don’t look at anything other than their own book. Jesus. I am a prude.

But prudishness aside, there seems to be a formula that the more skin on the cover of one of these things, the worse the writing found inside. Not always, but I’ve noticed a trend. So I tend to go for the Hard Case books featuring fully clothed people. The Wounded and The Slain was particularly excellent. And not a navel to be seen on the cover. Though I think there may have been some cleavage. Fair enough. These books harken back to a day when you couldn’t get your fill of sex by simply breathing, you needed to go out and buy a trashy pulp novel and they wouldn’t be quite the same without the sensational covers, would they?

So, does sex still sell? Am I the only person who avoids sexy books and movies with an averted eye? I suspect , despite Anenome’s claims, that sex does still sell. But in a different way that it used to. I also suspect I’m not entirely alone in my box office prudishness.


Episode 39 – Great Expectorations

November 13, 2009

Yesterday an Ontario public health official stated pH1N1, swine flu, was “from a pandemic perspective, a dud.” Despite this, Mandi and I contracted this swine flu (probably at Canzine 2009) and from a personal perspective, it was not a dud. It wasn’t the worst flu I’d ever gotten either. But it did involve a lot of phlegm. A lot. Of phlegm.

Episode 38 – Hobbies

November 6, 2009


What is it about the word “hobby” that causes a mild but palpable aversion? Perhaps it conjures images of pasty skinned men huddled in their basements painstakingly painting plastic models of Spitfire fighters and Panzer IV tanks. It also conjures images of knitted doilies and scrap-booking.

The “hobby shop” is a nerd hurdle in itself. It could partially be due to the bags of doll parts hanging on the wall of the “ladies” side of the store. But they’re kind of cool in their creepiness. The fake, dried flowers for making god knows what (wreaths perhaps?) on the other hand are neither creepy nor cool.

Is it this association with the word, combined with hobby stalwarts such as stamp and coin collecting,  that turns us off? Or is there something about anything falling under the column “hobby” that is intrinsically nerdy?

Whether pursuits such as scrapbooking and ceramics are immutably dorky in and of themselves, as soon as someone proclaims their interests as hobbies, we look down upon them (the person and the activity).

Perhaps it’s that only true nerds would use the slightly outmoded term. Todays hip and savvy crafter has “interests” and their “thing”but never a hobby. Even the older generation has cottoned on that they “do” ceramics or scrapebooking, but they don’t sully their handiwork with the dergatory H-word.

I suspect that part of the nerd association with hobbies is that they are innately personal, solitary pursuits where a person’s true colours really shine. There’s an ernestness to hobbies (usually accompanied with a fanatical devotion to them) which sets them apart from mere interests. And there is, of course, no nerdier quality than ernestness.

Which brings up an interesting dicotomy. Is an ernest interest in ironic fashion nerdy? Would the kids on latfh.com be less nerdy if they had an ironic interest in ironic fashions or more so? Thinking about it can make your head spin painfully—though undoubtedly specifically because you’re thinking about it at all.

So… what’s your hobby?

Above: Mandi mans the Ampersand Publishing table at Canzine 2009 where we nerdily nerded out on some of our zine and button oriented hobbies.

Referenced links: Look at This Fucking Hipster; Regretsy; Crappy Taxidermy; Disturbing Auctions (no longer updated).

Episode 37 – Dead Zombies Walking (Halloween part 2)

October 30, 2009

Far and away the search-term that lands the most people at Nerd Hurdles is “zombies.” It’s well into the hundreds and the next highest non-zombie related search-term is “borg queen” at 22. And I’d argue the Borg are just space zombies so “data star trek” at a count of 14 is the real runner-up. Since until this latest episode we’d only talked about zombies once (episode 21), this is a clear indication the public has gone rabid for zombies. And it’s not just googling nerds who have a hunger for the dead flesh, last weekend we walked amongst hundreds of punk, goth and hipster wannabe ghouls at the Toronto Zombie Walk 2009.

But why have the undead sprung to life? Something about shuffling brains-hungry corpses clearly resonates with the living population at a near universal level. I believe for the most part it’s due to the following three points: Read the rest of this entry »

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