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Becoming a Geek – A Beginner’s Guide

2

Jul

Posted by Steve

PART 1 – WHAT IS A GEEK?

The word “geek” actually has quite auspicious origins. The word was one time used interchangeably with “fool,” and even more auspiciously, GEEK is what they used to call performers who did freakish and disgusting acts…like biting the heads off of chickens and that kind of thing.

In recent years though, the word has evolved into a term used by the popular kids to make fun of the not-so-popular kids, and further into a badge of honor worn by computer enthusiasts and techno-nerds. The ultimate evolution has come about in recent years to include enthusiasts of nearly anything.

Personally, I use the term geek to describe anyone who is enthusiastic about one or two particular subjects and possesses extensive knowledge regarding the subjects about which he or she is enthusiastic.

It is for that reason that I proudly wear the badge “Geek.”

I tend to be enthusiastic about the world of superheroes and sci fi. This includes, but isn’t limited to, movies, comic books, television shows, and a certain saga that stands alone in the annals of my geekdom…a saga we call STAR WARS.

I guess the first thing one has to do on the road to becoming a geek is identify what kind of geek one wishes to be. There are sports geeks, TV geeks, comic book geeks, movie geeks, and any other type of geek you can think of.

For the purposes of this series, we will delve into and attempt to assist those who wish to become comic geeks or movie geeks.

So, (Monica) this is your first step into a larger world. Prepare to be quoting movies, rolling your eyes at people who are only familiar with comic book characters because of movies or cartoons, and potentially becoming annoying to all of your non-geek friends.

May I suggest for a little pre-becoming-a-geek preparation, read this article on how to be a geek and still have friends. Also, be ready to decide what you’re gonna geek out about…because that’s coming.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 9 – Iron Man

26

Mar

Posted by Steve

ironmanfirstappearance.jpgHe has been dubbed many things:¬† The Iron Avenger, Metal Head, Ol’ Shell Head, and others, but through it all, one word has continuously described the hero…INVINCIBLE.

Tony Stark, billionaire industrialist, who came into the Iron Man armor out of sheer necessity for his own life’s sake, has become one of Marvel comics, and arguably Superherodom’s, ¬†greatest heroes.¬†

(Is Superherodom even a word?  It is now!)

ironmanmontage.gifThe first thing that sticks out about Iron Man is the visual.¬† Iron Man is one of those characters who has gone through MANY changes in his looks, and by and large every single one has worked.¬† Why?¬† Because that’s his thing.¬† As technology evolves so must Iron Man.¬†¬†

The appearance of Iron Man makes one wonder what’s under that armor.¬† Then, we learn about repulsor beams, flight boots, and all manner of gadgetry that makes the Iron Man armor every gadget lover’s dream come true.

But, the armor is only as good as the man wearing it, and the story of Tony Stark is an interesting one to say the least.¬†¬† In typical Marvel form, Tony Stark isn’t just a good guy for goodness’ sake.¬† He is ever the business man, seeking out angles and positioning himself to come out ahead.¬† Couple with that his personal demons, and you have a well rounded interesting character as a hero.

He’s been an alcoholic, a womanizer,¬†a teenager, and most recently the brains behind the act that would bring Marvel’s heroes into a Civil War.¬† Most readers tended to think that this action put him on the wrong side of heroism, but the truth is Tony Stark was not only angling for himself, but he really felt the move was the right one to make.¬†

ironmanpunchingtheground.jpgThis is best shown in his speech in Worl War Hulk number 1.¬† He talks about always wanting to be a hero and realizing that being a hero calls for hard choices.¬† While the decisions may not be pretty or even appear jerkish, Stark has done what he feels is best not just for the super powered, but also for the world.¬† Granted, some of his moves are questionable (Tony’s Thunderbolts, I’m looking in your direction.).¬†¬† The point is, Tony Stark truly wants to help people and be a hero.¬† Not for ego’s sake, but because he has the ability to go out and make a difference.¬†¬†

So, let’s see….cool gadgetry? Check.¬† Flawed character? Check.¬† Hero at heart? Check.

¬†I’ll be the first to admit that Marvel has a long way to go to redeem Tony Stark.¬†¬†The side he chose¬†during the Marvel Civil War¬†was by and large¬†considered to be the wrong side.¬† His reasons for choosing his side seemed less that noble.¬† His character took a real hit through all of that, but he has never been more interesting to read.¬†

So, whether it’s the old Mark¬†One¬†bucket armore, the¬†sleek, almost alien looking Ultimate Armor,¬† the B-A-D War Machine Armor, or just the classic red and gold, Iron Man has and will most likely be for a while one of the most intriguing and fun characters in Superherodom.¬† Definitely worthy of a top ten spot.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
The Honorable Mentions (Part 1)

12

Mar

Posted by Steve

I’ve seen a bunch of other blogs do some¬†lists.¬† Top tens, top fives, top fifties, I’ve even read this blog that highlights the top 100 Marvel What If…? stories of all time.¬† So, I decided to my own list.¬† In fact, if all goes as planned, this will be the first list of several to come down the road.¬†

I thought the best place to start would be my top ten favorite superheroes.¬† This was actually a more difficult undertaking than I thought it would be.¬† There are a lot of superheroes that I really enjoy and have a really special place in my heart.¬† Narrowing them down to ten, and in order from 10th favorite to most favorite is a hard thing.¬† I know who my top two are, after that, it’s really just a list.¬†

One thing you’ll notice once we get into the top ten, is there are a few quite popular heroes that are left out of the list.¬† Why?¬† Because I tend to not like certain “anti-heroes” as much as the general populace.¬† However, because there are some that I kind of like and feel like merit a mention, here is the prequel to my top ten favorite superheroes.¬†¬† What follows are the honorable metions.

We start with Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic.¬† Reed Richards is one of those superheroes that end up a bit underrated because of the team with which he is surrounded.¬† Honestly, when you’ve got a super strong Rock monster, a hottie that can turn invisible and make impenatrable force fields just by thinking about it, and a dude that can ignite his body, throw fire, and fly it’s pretty hard to get notice because you can misterfantastic.jpgstretch.¬† However, here’s a guy that is the patriarch of just that team.¬† His intellect is unparalleled.¬† His leadership skills have saved the Fantastic Four time and time again, and he passionately loves his wife and child.¬†

For all of his intellect and the tendancy to be a bit distant from those around him when he’s working on a project or a new invention, the one staple of Reed Richard’s character is that he loves Sue, he loves Franklin, he does his best to be a good brother-in-law, and he continues to try to live up to the friendship that he and Ben Grimm have enjoyed over the years.¬† In fact, one of my favorite Reed Richard’s moments is in a retelling of the Fantastic Four origin with Reed acting as narrator while talking to his daughter.¬† He ends the whole thing by confessing that he set up Fantastic Four Inc. and does all of the heroics out of guilt for his family ending up the way they did.¬† He knows he’s ultimately responsible, and has constantly tried to make his family’s life better since.¬†

As far as powers go, it may seem that he drew the short straw, but truth be told, his stretching ability makes him nearly indestructible and useful in a lot of situations.  (And not just reaching items on the top shelf situations.)  Reed Richards has been a parachute, a soft landing cushion, a life raft, and has even been the one reason the Fantastic Four have been able to escape countless traps.

Favorite Reed Richards moment:  Reed was struggling with the answer to a problem, so he made a conference call to the only people that could help him figure it out, other Reed Richards from different dimensions.  Mindbending and cool at the same time.

Next in the honorable mentions list is Robin.

There have been three Robins in DC comics, Dick Grayson was the original, Jason Todd robin.jpgwas the one who died, and Tim Drake is the current Robin.¬† Quite frankly, he’s as good as Dick Grayson in my opinion.¬†

Robin is THE original sidekick.¬† While he was relegated to his “Holy whatever” lines in the sixties television show and later incarnations of the Superfriends, Robin plays a vital role in the legend of Batman.¬† How?¬†¬†It is the presence of Robin that keeps Batman grounded.¬† He’s Batman’s connection to humanity.¬† Darwyn Cooke showed this in Justice League: New Frontier¬†when we get a glimpse into why Batman decided to have a Robin.¬† Robin makes Batman seem less scary to the people that he doesn’t want to scare.¬†

The thing about Robin, in nearly all three carnations, is that he’s a sidekick that can hold his own most of the time.¬† The threats he faces when he’s with Batman are not little bitty threats.¬† They are as real as the threats that Batman faces, and Robin holds his own.¬†

On top of that, Robin leads the Teen Titans.¬† Unlike his television counterpart from the sixties, Robin is taken very seriously in the pages of DC comics and well he should be.¬† Dick Grayson is now Nightwing, and could reasonably step into the shoes of Batman, if he would.¬† Jason Todd¬†returned from the dead.¬† Tim Drake, in an effort to become the World’s greatest detective deduced the true identity of Batman.¬† Yes, probably the greatest sidekick of all time, Robin is a great superhero in his own right.

Next in the honorable mentions section is The Sensational She Hulk.

When Jennifer Walters needed a life saving blood transfusion, it was her cousin Robert shehulk.jpgBruce Banner that was able to step up and save her life, but at what cost?¬† Well, today, Jennifer would tell you a very small cost.¬† Early on, even though Jennifer called was the Savage She Hulk she never had the problem with rage that her cousin had.¬† The reason she was called “savage” was because, like her cousin, anger triggered her transformation into her green skinned alter ego.¬† Unlike her cousin, though, she retained her intelligence and found that there was a confidence that she enjoyed that was normally lacking in her life.¬† Thus, she opted to remain in She Hulk form.

She Hulk has been a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.¬† She’s one of the few people in the Marvel Universe that can give The Thing a run for his money.¬† Not because she’s super strong, but because she turns the flirt on high power whenever she’s around him making him incredibly nervous and draining him of his usual gusto.

She Hulk merits an honorable mention in my book for several reasons.¬† The first is her relationship to the Hulk.¬† Of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, Jen Walters is the one person who “gets” the Hulk.¬† That makes me appreciate her.¬†¬† Then there’s the fun factor.¬† She Hulk is funny, and since here graphic novel in the mid-eighties, her book has never been afraid to have fun.¬† In recent months (read during the Planet Hulk Saga and after Civil War) She Hulk started taking down the Hulk’s enemies in his absence, only to be shot up with nanobots that reversed her transformation and kept her as a human by Iron Man.¬† She’s back with a vengeance now though.

The Silver Surfer:

Norrin Radd gave up his freedom and his “humanity” (for lack of a better word) to serve as the herald of Galactus when the world devourer came to consume his planet.¬†¬† By doing silversurfer.jpgso, Norrin Radd saved his home planet of Zenn-La and his one true love.¬†¬† However, his fate was to wander the stars alone, weilder of the power cosmic, finding planets for his master to consume and satiate his unending hunger.

His searches led him to Earth where he encountered the Fantastic Four.  Their heroism and the beauty of the planet awakened the conscience that The Silver Surfer had long allowed to lay dormant.  As Galactus approached, The Surfer stood with his newfound friends and allies against him.  The World Eater sentenced his herald to be bound to Earth for the rest of his days. 

In later years, the Silver Surfer would break his Earthly bonds and soar the stars once more. 

See how my whole tone changes when writing about the Silver Surfer?  He does that to you.  He makes you feel more important, more intelligent, more in touch with the world around you. 

Stan Lee admits openly that The Silver Surfer was Jack Kirby’s creation.¬† In an interview, Stan mentioned that he got Kirby’s drawings back and there was the Surfer.¬† Stan was hooked and Norrin Radd became Stan Lee’s voice to his readers.¬† Lee admits that he allowed his thougts and ideas about the world to be spoken through the words of the Silver Surfer.

I like the Silver Surfer a lot.¬† His powers are cool.¬† His stories are enormous in scope, yet they are deeply personal to him as well.¬† He carries himself with a dignity that belies his guilt over so many worlds being destroyed because of him.¬† His interactions with the heroes of Earth are always fun to watch, and it’s interesting that readers still go back to him again and again, never complaining that he’s “too powerful.”¬† His heart, his respect for life, and his heroism make him a compelling character to follow.

Sue Richard (The Invisible Woman):

She may be the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four.¬† Her passion balances out the concrete and sometimes distracted personality of her husband.¬† She’s a mother, a sister, a devoted wife and friend, and a fighter.¬† Seriously, don’t make Sue angry…you invisiblewoman.jpgwouldn’t like here when she’s angry.

Sue Storm possesses one of the big two when it comes to super powers: invisibility.  (The other of the big two being flight.   Seriously, the question always asked is would you rather be able to be invisible or fly?)  On top of that, she can create invisible, practically impenatrable force fields. 

As I stated before, even her husband has hypothesized that she may be the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four.  Her invisibility allows her to move undetected to the naked eye, her force fields can be as powerful as her own will in a situation. 

The interesting thing about Sue, though, is she never is the power player.¬† More often than not, her powers are used defensively as opposed to an offensive measure.¬† This is a reflection of her motherly protectiveness.¬†¬† However, when she cuts loose, she cuts loose.¬† I’ve seen her cut off Dr. Dooms air supply, pelt an opponent with a barrage of littly force field balls, and in one of her tougher moments threaten the Wizard with heart failure by creating microscopic force fields in his blood stream to act as blod clots.¬†¬†¬† Very cool…and scary.¬† Hell hath no fury friends….Hell hath no fury.

That’s it for part one of the honorable mentions. The top ten will start with my Number 10 favorite Super Hero after part two is posted.¬† What do you think?¬† Let’s go ahead and hear your top ten list.¬† (Remember, this is a safe place to geek out.)

Star Wars Fans Take a Hit…

16

Jan

Posted by Steve

In June of 2007, right during the heart of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, a project aired on the History Channel that peeled back the layers of storytelling in the Star Wars saga.  The special explored the link between Star Wars and classic mythology.  It showed the depth and richness of every facet of the films and hopefully opened the eyes of some to allow them to see how deep, intricate, and intelligent the films are.

I actually had some good conversations with non-Star Wars fans who were friends of mine after they saw that special.

Then there’s the airing of shows like Star Wars tech and the science of Star Wars, where intelligent, educated people talk about the real possibilities of the technology and science in the Star Wars universe and what it would take to make the imagination of George Lucas truly come to life.

Projects like these, and charity events sponsored by the people of the fighting 501st have, over the past few years, really helped to shed a good light on us Star Wars fans.

Then American Idol aired last night. 

If you didn’t see it, then you missed a couple of people who set out with a mission…and accomplished it.

The mission?  Give the general public yet another reason to point and laugh at Star Wars fans.

Let’s begin with the young lady who wore fish net stockings, a Star Wars belt buckle and Princess Leia Cinnabon-esque hair puffs. (Which were fake by the way.)

I think it’s great that she was proudly displaying her love of the Star Wars saga.¬† I think it was bold for her to (at the time she was actually there) potentially go on national television embracing one of the greatest things about geek culture.¬† However, I’d like to, in hind sight, offer a few suggestions:

1.¬† Your real hair?¬† Long enough to do the little bun things for real if you’d take the time.¬† This would have prevented you from giving America the moment where you rip off the fake hair pieces and hand them one by one to your grandfather who was attempting to console you and suddenly found himself holding fake hair.¬† I didn’t want to laugh…but I had to.¬† As one came off and the other goes and there’s good old Grandad sitting there with this hair looking like, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

2.¬† The ranting and raving?¬† Didn’t help your cause at all.¬† You set out to prove that we geeks (you called us dorks…at which I take offense.¬† Look up the word dork…we aren’t dorks) aren’t total losers.¬† The minute you made excuses for your audition going poorly, guess what princess…you looked like a loser.

I don’t intend to be harsh, but spoken like a true geek she said, “They don’t want unique.¬† They need a new look.”¬† No…No they don’t.¬† The show’s been pretty successful for what is now it’s 7th year without the unique look.¬† Actually, I’ve seen some pretty plain jane people make it to Hollywood and beyond based on their TALENT!!!

3.¬† It was Celebration 4…not “The 30th Anniversary Celebration at the Los Angeles Convention Center in LA. Duh.”¬† How ’bout for all the people who aren’t in the know just call it the biggest Star Wars convention in the nation?¬† They know what you’re talking about.

4.¬† Finally, you have potential with your singing…get some voice lessons, learn to talk to people without making them scared of you, and lose the Star Wars belt buckle…unless you’re at Celebration 5.¬† Who knows, do those things and next year you could take your unique look to Hollywood and get your picture taken with that Chewbacca guy who attacked Elmo.

Aside for Leia-girl we were treated to a guy who knew what he was doing when he showed up for his audition in a cloak that stretched from his neck to the floor covering up a Leia slave bikini outfit that HE was wearing.¬†This wasn’t a man confused about his sexuality, or attempting to be a cross-dresser.¬† This guy wanted to get on TV and make an impact.¬† And he did.¬† He bellyflopped Star Wars fans right out of the gene pool with that thing.

Not only did he disrobe once, at Paula’s behest he went and got his chest waxed came back again and almost got to do his little marching routine to “Dontcha.”¬†

I got the joke dude, but couldn’t you have done a Uhura outfit or something.¬† Might not have been as nasty, but at least we could have laughed at the Trekkies…heh heh heh Trekkies are losers.

Oh, and by the way, you do much plumbing?  Because you were sporting that buttcrack like a pro, sir.

I would like to offer a suggestion to both of you.  Before you ever go out in public again, please check out my free service to geeks everywhere in a little blog I call How to Be a Geek in Public and Still Have Friends. It may help.

I just want to speak on behalf of the Star Wars fans out there.¬† We aren’t all like that.¬† We know our place.¬†¬† We are cooler than the general public, but we realize that the general public isn’t ready to accept that yet.¬†¬† So, we’ll keep to our conventions and blogs and do our best to fit in to the outside world.¬† Waiting. Watching. Until that day when the Force is with us all.

HD’s Got the “Blu”s

9

Jan

Posted by Steve

Warner Bros.  announces this week that starting in May they will discontinue the release of HD DVDs and opt to go exclusively with Blu Ray technology to release titles in High Definition.

¬†To the average consumer, this isn’t that big of a deal.¬† Of course, the average consumer hasn’t had all that much time to truly choose the format he wants to go with when it comes to high definition.¬†¬† In fact, in my area most people are still trying to figure out whether to go plasma or LCD.¬† Don’t even bring up DLP technology, it will just confuse everybody.

I have a real problem with studios choosing to definitively go one way or the other.  Especially Warner Bros.  Why? 

In the broad scope of things, I think that consumers should be given the chance to choose for themselves which technology they like better. 

On a more narrow scope, the fact is that Warner Bros. has it’s hand on so much of the entertaiment we enjoy that even with studios like Paramount choosing to go exclusively HD DVD, the pressure is going to be on studios to go ahead and go with Blu Ray.¬†

If you asked me honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if money or kickbacks were changing hands somewhere even though it is denied by the corporations.¬† (I have just enough of a conspiracy theorist in me to not believe that at all though.)

So what does all of this mean for the geek?¬† Well, if you’ve bought an HD DVD player, get whatever WB titles you want on HD DVD before May.¬† Don’t expect this year’s big WB hits to be on HD DVD.¬† So that means don’t expect to set an HD DVD version of THE DARK KNIGHT next to BATMAN BEGINS on your DVD shelf.¬†¬† In fact, you may want to start saving up for a Blu Ray player if for no other reason than it seems that Blu Ray may win this format war.¬†¬†

If, like me, you’ve held out to see what’s gonna win out in the end, hang in there and let’s see.¬† The minute we go Blu Ray, though, there will probably be something else come out.¬†

Ultimately, I understand studios choosing exclusivity one way or the other.  It makes little financial sense to put out three different formats of something only to lose money when one format goes under.  It is sad though that the consumer once again has to be strung along by the big corporations. 

Howver, in an effort to not be negative, High Def is cool.  Kudos to all of the big studios for seeing the need to take video releases to next level yet again.  

Now, if they will just come off the 4 cents for the writers….