Friday, June 6, 2014
Growing Up Nerdy
Dear Growing Up Nerdy,
I heard they just optioned your life stories into a 10-part miniseries on HBO! CONGRATS! Anyway, when I look out at all the nerdy stuff out there in the world some of it just seems too nerdy for me. Is there anything that you thought was “too nerdy” but gave a chance to anyway?
-Marcus in San Antonio
Adam: Probably the pinnacle and best example of something I thought was too nerdy was The Rocky Horror Picture Show. My first introduction to it was on television. Some time around the 30th anniversary they showed it on TV, but did it where there was a camera in a theater so you could see the people performing it. There were all these dudes dressed in drag singing with a movie screen behind them, and here I was a 16-year-old just saying “WTF” over and over in my head. For years, that was the line for “too nerdy for my ass.” It stayed that way for years, up until about 2011 when a former student, Colleen, came back to visit. She told me how she was really into RHPS and how much she loved it and wanted me to come see. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I thought RHPS was shit, even though I’d never seen it.
Here in Chicago, there are two places you can see RHPS on a weekly basis. The one closest to us is at Hollywood Blvd Theater in Downers Grove. It plays at midnight, and the idea of staying up that late to see a movie I was convinced was a path I didn’t want to go down was not going to happen. But Colleen was persistent and I agreed to go. I showed up and the “cast” was there all dressed up in drag, walking around outside the theater and all I could think was how much I’d rather be in bed.
As we walked in they gave us a “ROCKY HORROR SURVIVAL KIT” full of props for the movie. The lights go down, the movie starts, and instantly people are yelling at the screen, throwing rice, and singing along to a giant set of singing lips. Needless to say I was completely taken in by this experience. Over the course of movie, I saw people dancing in the aisle and throwing everything from toilet paper to toast. Not to mention the “call backs" -- you see, some of these people go every week and have timed it so they yell things at the screen and it appears they're talking to the characters on the screen. While many people may find this annoying, it’s not. It’s fucking hysterical! I went with my friend Matt who used to be in the RHPS cast and knew every callback. I spent more time laughing during that 98 minutes than any 98 minutes ever in my life. I’ve since gone back about five times, and each time I enjoy just being around so many people who love the experience.
Mike: The thing that I was most intimidated by but managed to overcome my fears and give it a shot was Doctor Who. I've covered my journey with Doctor Who in a previous column, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ll only say that I was scared to start a series that has been around since 1963, but the reboot in 2005 provided a good jumping-on point for new Who fans. The rest is history. Doctor Who is my favorite science fiction series ever, and overcoming my initial intimidation was the best thing I could’ve done.
For every Doctor Who success story in my life, there’s a Stargate. See, Adam and our fearless leader Patrick (along with my great friend Nick wehave mentioned before) are big fans of the Stargate TV series, particularly Stargate: Atlantis. I’m always looking for a new sci-fi show to dive into, especially after the success that was Doctor Who, so I thought it made sense to give Stargate a shot despite all of the Stargate content already out there. My only previous exposure to the Stargate universe was the first movie directed by Roland Emmerich. I saw it when it came out in 1994 and remember thinking it was…fine (we’re required in every FTM post to say a movie is “fine” at least once). I liked Kurt Russell because Kurt Russell, but I remembered very little else about it. Fast forward to last summer when I decided to take on the Stargate series. Keep in mind there is a lot to digest. There are three TV series, starting with 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1.
I realize I could’ve jumped right into Stargate: Atlantis, the show that three of my very best friends love and have encouraged me to watch, but instead my obsessive compulsive personality took over and I needed to start with the Roland Emmerich movie and all ten seasons of SG-1 before I could dip my toes into Atlantis. Patrick tried telling that that wasn’t necessary, but I didn’t heed his warning. I bought the Stargate movie on Amazon and watched it one night after my kids went to bed. 128 minutes later, I decided I no longer wanted to watch anything with the name Stargate attached to it. The movie was such a turnoff that all excitement I had about starting a new series went right out the window. A year later, however, my memory of the movie has faded once again. As I write this, I’m feeling a tinge of excitement about giving Stargate another go. The question is, where do I start?
Dear Growing Up Nerdy,
I’m a 3rd year student at MIT. A group of us students decided to try and build a robot and we were looking for advice on what robot we should base ours off of. Anything would help.
-Dan in Cambridge
Mike: I think you need to ask yourself why you’re building a robot? Is it to see if you can pull it off, or is there a more practical reason for taking on this challenge? I would need a reason to pump so much money and effort and time into this work. I would write down a list of purposes for the robot(s) and look to movies, TV, comic books, literature, etc. for inspiration. This would be my game plan:
I would do this when I was younger, presumably single. Now that I’m fulfilling my robot-building dream, it’s time for me to settle down. I need to go out and meet my future wife, so I bring along my drinking buddy robot that I just built (based on Bender from Futurama) to hit the clubs. After getting kicked out of every establishment we enter thanks to Bender's behavior, I decide to ditch him and to just build my wife -- my Stepford wife, to be exact. I call her Stephanie. She’s great and enthusiastic about starting our family. First, however, we take off for our honeymoon. My wife and I want to travel Europe, but she’s concerned we don’t speak the languages. I tell her that that’s no problem and I quickly build us a protocol droid, able to communicate in 6 million languages. We take off for the airport in our robot car, I call it KITT, and we have the time of our lives. When we return, my wife decides she wants a dog, so I whip up K-9. We love our dog, but she’s messy. And while a Stepford wife is great at cleaning up after our K-9, no woman of mine should lift a finger! Enter Rosie, our robot maid.
Things are now going great. Stephanie and I often invite our robot friends, Tom Servo, Crow, Gypsy and Cambot over to watch bad movies, and boy do they make it fun. But behind all of the laughter there are tears. Stephanie and I have been distant lately. I can’t put my finger on why that is; I mean, she’s PERFECT, but I’m a little bored. Enter Boomer, my beautiful mistress based off of Grace Park’s character in the updated Battlestar Galactica. I’m not proud of this, I’d never want to hurt Steph, but I built a sexy robot and one thing leads to another. Shit happens. Problem is that Cambot saw Boomer and I one night and taped the shit out of our steamy affair. I can’t have this. I have too much to lose. I’ll need to build a robot to go back in time to kill Cambot before he ever has the chance to lay his lenses on me and my Boomer. No traditional name for this robot. We’re going with T-800 and he is AWESOME. Problem is Cambot’s mom is a badass and T-800 doesn’t stand a chance. Cambot lives and spills the beans to my wife, who leaves me and takes K-9 and KITT with her. Boomer gets called to work on a starship and I never hear from her again. My friends distance themselves, leaving only Rosie and me in a house too big for the two of us. I sit on the bottom step of my spiral staircase and Rosie wheels up next to me. “Where did I go wrong, Rosie?” I’ll say through a river of tears. “You dropped food on the floor when you last ate, sir, but I cleaned it up.” “She doesn’t understand the question,” I’ll think, allowing myself a moment to be amused.
Or look to Weird Science for the real answer.
Now, when building robots you need to concentrate on the 3 B's: Boobs, Braun and Buddy.
Boobs - This is a toughie, but I’m going with Six from Battlestar Gallactica. Tricia Helfer at her very sexiest. While my friend Mike will tell you it’s Boomer, I will have to disagree. For the sexiest robot around, go Six.
Braun - When it comes to badass, tough robots you need to look no further than the T-1000 from Terminator 2. Sure the T-800 is tough, sure it’s all Arnold and shit, but for my money, I’m going with the liquid metal man. Of course that begs the question...can you make a liquid metal robot? Are we there yet? I’m going with no, so my second answer would be M.A.R.K. 13 from Hardware. Sure, it wants to eliminate all flesh, but if you could control it, there isn’t a more badass robot out there.
Buddy - I can’t decided between The Iron Giant or Data. I’ll probably end up going with Data because the Iron Giant has trouble talking and who wants to hang out with that? Now, slow down fellow nerds, I know technically Data is an Android, but for the sake of argument lets go with robot. Data is the perfect chum. He’s strong, he’s friendly and always looking for those pesky emotions.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “There is no way all of that could be in just one robot!” Well, you’d be WRONG, you ass hat! There is one robot that has all 3 “B’s” wrapped up into one spectacular piece of awesome. That would be the Buffybot. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a robot twin who looks just as good, can kick major ass and aims to please. If your single goal was to make one perfect robot, look no further than the Buffybot. That’s it. Game over. Build me one, I don’t care the cost, I love her.
If the technology does not yet exist to make the Buffybot, make her into a computer program, put her into The Matrix and sign my ass up for a head plug.