Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, July 24, 2004


Ich Bein Ein Fanboy

There's a very fine line between being interested in things that might be considered, for lack of a better term, geeky and actually being a huge, mouth-breathing geek. It's not, though, something you can really determine for yourself. Brad Pitt can put on a pair of thick-framed glasses and brandish a pack of Magic the Gathering cards, yelling, "Look at me! I'm a huge nerd!" The rest of the world, though, knows that, no, in fact he is a supercool pretty boy pothead movie star. Conversely, Bill Gates can buy The Shins, make himself lead guitarist and start fucking Beyonce and the world will still say, "Mr. Gates, you are a very rich and powerful geek. But geek you are."

There's a trick in this. The trick is in being cool enough that you can get away with having shamefully geeky habits. This is how Chris Rock can be a twelfth-level dungeon master and nobody thinks less of him. Charlize Theron can have the complete Kenner line of Star Wars figures mint in the box and she's still super hot. Jake Gyllenhall can dress up in medieval costumes on the weekend and go jousting and still hold the anorexic attentions of Kirsten Dunst.

I can't get away with this. I am in no way, shape or form a cool person. I don't know where to find any underground after-hours clubs. I'm never even out "after-hours." I buy clothes at Old Navy. I still really like They Might Be Giants. Not cool. Not even a little.

And so I find myself worried about this nosedive I seem to be taking since moving to New York a few years ago. When my wife and I lived in Seattle--well, first off, she wasn't my wife during the seven years we lived together, so that's a little hipper than marriage right there--we had a fairly large group of friends and we rarely had a dearth of things to do on the weekend. Again, I'm not saying that we were snorting cocaine off of the cast of One Tree Hill, but we went out. Since moving here, my wife's been in law school. This doesn't lend itself to partying.

So we stay in a lot. Consequently, I spend more time on line. And here's where things start to get slightly scary. I have, for many years, been a reader of comic books. I don't deny this if people ask, but I keep my comics--literally--in the closet. You will not see justice League posters in our living room. Neither of our dogs is named Krypto. I do not dress as Swamp Thing at Halloween. Over the last year and a half, though I've been surfing a lot more Comic Book news sites. ("News" is a term used fairly loosely here, as the vast majority of the world could give a shit that there's a new letterer on Teen Titans.)

This weekend, in San Diego, is the huge San Diego International Comic Convention. Think of all the horrifying cliches you can imagine about a comic book convention--the acne, debates over Wonder Woman's bra size, people speaking Klingon--and then multiply it by two hundred thousand and you have San Diego. It's like South by Southwest, Lollapalooza and the Mel Tillis Theater in Branson all rolled into one, but for geeks.

This is where many comic book companies announce their huge projects for the year. They announce new books, they announce changes in writers, they discuss upcoming storylines, etc. And this year--pardon me while I grab a straight razor to slit my wrists open in shame--I'm following the news. Twice daily. Why? Good fucking God, why do I care that Lois Lane will be shot this year? Does it make any tiny bit of difference in the world that Captain Marvel is going to return to the Justice Society? It does not.

I need to get out of the house. I need to be around people who not only don't care that Aquaman now has a magical hand made of water, they don't even know who the fuck Aquaman is. I need to go drink. 'Cause that, that would make me happier with myself.

OK, I'll bite!

I've never heard of a Blog before, but since I'm sitting at my computer, using Excel and Word, for the majority of the day, I could use a good distraction.

Comics, my friend, are NOT geeky. They are the purest, most rudimentary form of cinnematic presentation. Until recently, I did not realize the value of comics as a medium for expression of the most profound and personal politics and philosophies of our modern world. In fact, I lost my comic virginity to "The Sandman", which is what it would have been like being deflowered by Marilyn Monroe. Both she and "The Sandman" are long gone, but they have both remained ever present within their own sub-cultures, and are both worthy of the occasional fantasy.

The most recent notch in my comic book belt is "Watchmen." Pure Genius!! (although a little too wordy at the end). But, thank you JOE!! I will now proceed to "Astro City" with enthusiasm! (By the way, we are taking the best care of your books so you can be assured that they will arrive back to you in good order.)

I guess I just don't have the "geek-dar" that you have Joe. I've always been one myself and have naturally assumed that the rest of the world saw things as I do. In other words, an old fashioned Star Trek convention sounds pretty cool to me.

Keep up the postings!
While waiting for my eighth screening of Spider-Man 2 to begin, it hit me. As I looked around in pity at all the extremist fans I had seen there seven times before, I had a moment. A horrifying, Hitchcockian, extreme-zoom-in-on-me-while-background-pulls-away moment.

I am one of them. I am also a fanboy. It feels like I'm admitting to alcoholism, drug addiction, or a gambling problem. How could I be so blind?

I've tried to hide it from myself and others since high school by having a job, not living in my parents' basement, getting a non-nerdy wife, being in shape, and driving a sports car. It's still there, underneath. Undeniably.

That initial truth struck me hard, then an avalanche of realizations tumbled down on me.

I realized my job is populated with geeks (computer scientists), and that I only seem cool when compared them because I'm no longer a virgin.

Then I realized "in shape" means that I'm 6'2" and 160 lbs. Sure, I run a lot, but let's face it: I am a gangly, unsightly, uncoordinated mess. People would mistake me for Lyle Lovett before Brad Pitt. In fact, I look more like a less-furrowed version of the late Timothy McVeigh. I think Oskar Schindler must have taken pity on me and gotten me the last seat on the last train outta Virgintown.

As the starting credits to S2 rolled (which I am nerdy enough to know were done by Alex Ross), I also realized how obvious my nerdiness must be to normal people, kinda like the emperor's new clothes. I think I'm all suave, and they see straight through it, and laugh to themselves.

I mean, I've PLAYED Magic: The Gathering! Enough to know that there's a COLON in the title of the game! I debate the finer points of computer video card technology with friends at lunch. I have two Spider-Man (McFarlane) posters in MY OFFICE. I play video games until 2 on work nights. I keep up with comic/video game/computer things so that I can buy them/see them the day they come out. The Mariana Trench cannot hold the depths of my geekitude!

Write on, Joe. Write on for all of us.
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