EPISODE 100 – Nerd Hurdles vs. Starbase 66

February 4, 2011

It was bound to come down to this eventually. That’s right… Episode 100!

What better excuse to decide the question on everyone’s lips: Nerd Hurdles and Starbase 66… Which podcast is the bigger hurdle?

Klingon Commander, Kennedy “Kenny G Gordon storms the Hurdle Hut with his bat’leth to defend the Starbase’s honour. Jakob and Mandi use their Kirk-Fu against him.

Three nerds enter, three nerds, uh, leave. Pretty much unscathed. The Hurdle Hut isn’t exactly Thunderdome.

 

 


Episode 72 – To Infinerdery and Beyond

July 9, 2010

Buzz

At some point Pixar films went from a breath of the freshest air to a lungful of the same stale popcorn.

And I’m not sure why. Looking at the list of their films, other than the WTF wrong-turn they took with Cars, it’s all pretty good stuff. The best of the genre, you might even say. Though I’ll always pick Dreamworks’ Antz over A Bug’s Life, my dislike for their films I don’t rate (Wall-E, The Incredibles) has more to do with over-hyping than the quality of the films themselves.

I haven’t seen Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and Up simply because when I saw Monsters Inc, I knew Pixar were beginning to spin their wheels and no one else seemed to notice. Mostly that the conveyor belt scene is the same as the conveyor belt scene in the airport in Toy Story 2. Not only that, they relied on the same character dynamics and pranks, just packaged in a new set of creatures.

To compound matters, the Shrek and Ice Age movies jumped on the bandwagon in a big way. At first they gave it some new momentum but ultimately bogged it down into the mire of mediocrity. Shrek 2, unfairly, has more to do with my Pixar hurdle than any Pixar film.

When Finding Nemo came out I’d had it. I didn’t need to see the same quest with the same gags and the same conveyor belt scene at the end. Though there probably isn’t a conveyor belt in the ocean, I suspect there’s some underwater current or a ride down a system of sewer pipes at some point. I still haven’t seen Nemo, the hurdle is that strong.

I did see Wall-E though. People said it was a breath of fresh air; it broke down barriers; it built on Pixar’s original standards set by Toy Story. Sounded good.

I watched it. And, yes, it started strong. Really strong. But what was I treated to? That same fucking conveyor belt scene for the last half the film.

Pixar were dead to me at this point. They were definitely going down. Up looked like a new low, as far as I was concerned. I still haven’t risen to the challenge.

But we did see Toy Story 3. And it is glorious.

Not only does it live up to the standard set by the previous two adventures—again raising the bar and not lowering it—it’s the only 3D film where I’ve said “They got it right.” It’s not a 3-D wankery spectacle like Avatar, it’s an enhanced movie experience.

It’s also a lesson in how to do a sequel that references the previous films without leaning on them. It’s satisfying, not ham-fisted. Sure, there’s a goddamn conveyor belt at the end, but they found a new(ish) way to flog that horse.

Is Pixar back in the game? Maybe, maybe not. But I wouldn’t hesitate to see Toy Story 4.

Some nerds made some buzz with Buzz.

We wrap up Season 4.0 in the most spoiler-heavy way possible. But more importantly, who wears pants and who goes comando?


Episode 71 – Trials and Tribulations of Nerds in The Workplace

June 25, 2010

After high school, the most dangerous place for the common nerd is the workplace. Or is it?

It really all depends on the workplace in question. An investment office full of ambitious, privileged, pretty people might not be a safe haven for a dumpy, balding man with a moderate case of Aspergers. But he might be revered as a guru at the comic shop.

Or he might get fired for sexually harassing “the girl” who works there.

But extreme situations aside, many people feel the need to hide their nerdy inclinations from their colleagues. And it’s too bad since they might find out there’s a fellow Trekkie two cubicles down if they weren’t afraid of ridicule around the water-cooler.

And it’s no wonder people are afraid. Whenever coworkers find out I like Star Trek and sci-fi they always say something to the effect of, “Really? I didn’t think you would be into that kind of thing!” with barely disguised disdain. I find it amusing  but someone less at ease with their own nerdiness may feel the need to cry away the shame in a bathroom stall.

Also amusing is when they think they’re being reassuring and supportive by saying, “But you’re not a… a nerd.”

I usually just say, “Yeah, I am kind of,” and refrain from pointing out they’re a big nerd too. Probably bigger than me. Like closeted gays who rattle off homophobic epithets to protect themselves from their own desires, the biggest offenders of workplace nerd-bashing are closeted nerds. Another reason the Nerd Pride movement is so important.

ugly betty
They even make sitcoms about nerds facing discrimination in the workplace.

By and large, Mandi and I have been lucky. We’ve both worked exclusively in nerd-friendly environments. Mandi worked at a Nerd Store (comics, role-playing games, magic supplies—as in actual stage magic, not the card game) and historical reenactment Fort, and I’ve worked at video stores and record stores before moving on to the uber-geeky environment of mid-level government offices.

Record stores may seem like hot-beds of cool from the outside, but you’ll never find a more wretched hive of nerds and geekery. Sure, the odd coolie-woolie comes in looking for the hippest new record by the hippest new band from Brooklyn, but the regulars are guys looking for first-pressings of ’70s prog bands or Japanese pressings of Deep Purple records with the obi intact.

I ask you who’s nerdier: A guy looking for a specific Spiderman comic or a dude looking for a specific bluegrass 78 from the 1930s? I’ve seen both and let me tell you, anyone looking for 78s is beyond hope.

So the other side of the counter is pretty much the safest place for a nerd to work. I’ve also seen nerds’ social statuses skyrocket as soon as they became record store employees. It’s a sad statement on society and the sheep-like nature of human beings, but it’s a fact. Record stores turn nerds from pumpkins into princesses. Too bad they really are going to be a thing of the past in about five to ten years.

Nerd-bashing certainly can be a danger in the workplace, we’ve just never experienced it. But normies should take note and watch this classic study on what can result from workplace nerd abuse. Be careful who you marginalize.

LINK: We reference a Karen who bought actress Suzie Plakson‘s vulcan ears. And we say some stuff about that. You can read about that HERE for context.


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