By Roy Mathur, on 2011-11-24, at 14:52, for Boldly Voyaging the Multiverse: Probably the Best Nerd Blog in the Multiverse
These days every single person in the entire multiverse claims to be a kewl, wooting, and FTW nerd, geek, or otaku.
I don't think so.
Face it, how many of you were repeatedly beaten up, had your lunch money stolen, spoke with a lisp, wore glasses, were small, underweight, and flabby all at the same damn time, and tried to alleviate your unpopularity by charitably repairing all those friends' computers?
How many of you have an obsessive need to play, tinker, and fetishize all sorts of tech, watch the spaceships inside your head attack bigger spaceships attacking even bigger spaceships in an outer space sci-fi reverse Matryoshka doll of doom, or drown your neurotransmitters in the opiate effect of packratting action figures, badges, books, comics, mags, mugs, ad mortis?
Thus, I present...
Before consciousness thought to tweens, my earliest recollection is a weird psychedelic memory of watching Neil Armstrong's Moon landing though a shroud over my crib.
Later there was a big children's science fiction picture book that either my mother or I chose from the children's section of Bellingham Library in Catford, SE London. I remember her reading its story about a space boy to me many times at bedtime.
I watched Star Trek, Doctor Who, and movies like The Day The Earth Caught Fire, This Island Earth, Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still on a black and white cathode ray television. I particularly remember Forbidden Planet because once, when a child psychiatrist requested me to draw whatever came into my mind, I drew the beast battle scene. Without context, the shrink was greatly disturbed by my apocalyptic art.
I'm a movie nut. The first cinema films I remember seeing, though I'm not sure in what order, were Where Eagles Dare (155 minutes of proto-Wolfenstein Nazi bashing goodness), a theatrical re-release of Lawrence of Arabia; both with Mum and Dad, and the 1975 re-release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with Dad at my frequently visited local Catford ABC (http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/28141). The Evil Queen scared me enough that I asked Dad if we could leave early, but nowadays, predictably, I'm wildly attracted to her. There were also occassional visits, mostly with Dad, to the Cartoon Cinema at Victoria Station (http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/1248/) for vintage cartoons and Buster Crabb's Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
I read Brit comics---before we all started calling them comic books---in this order: Dandy, Beano, Victor, Warlord, Commando, Battle Action, 2000 AD, Starlord, Tornado, Crunch, and Star Blazer. Somewhere along the line I was introduced to Marvel through Spiderman Pocket Books #1 and #2 (a small format reprinting of the very first Ditko/Lee Spider Man runs), as well as a few French ones, like Pif and Rahan, obtained during stays with my relatives in France. I was also a card carrying member of both the Desperate Dan and Dennis and Gnasher fan clubs.
In my tweens to teens ownership of consoles and computers started with a Binatone TV Master with 2 paddles and a light gun (or a clone; my memry is not entirely reliable on this). My first computer was a Commodore 64 on which I played games like Ug, Scramble, and Ring of Power (the cover art of which influenced me to grew a beard), until its power brick... bricked (and it looked and weighed the same as an actual brick too). Then came the Sega Mega Drive 16 bit; the best games were Mortal Combat II, Dragon's Fury, Sonic the Hedgehog, and PGA Tour Golf. My final childhood console was a handheld; the original Nintendo Gameboy.
What about arcades? No, not really, apart from the occasional visit that lasted about five minutes, while I spent a week's pocket money on bloody Dragon's Lair. You see, arcades were stinky, sticky places, full of cigarette smoke, bullies and, frankly, creepy adult customers, and even creepier staff. Despite what you might think from watching War Games and Tron, most geeks didn't visit arcades much.
Films again. Through a special offer, my mother took me to Leicester Square for Death on the Nile, Star Wars, and a special Star Trek triple bill. What a Storm Trooper she is.
I sporadically read Marvel and DC; mainly Batman.
Let's talk violence. I was beaten up almost on a daily basis. The solution to which, some Judo lessons, only meant additional extracurricular beatings. Finally though various arcane martial art studies I discovered the power of the ancient 'knee-to-groin/foot-to-knee and run-like-hell' forms, and, in fact, have since invented my own Kung Fu style that I call Way of the Spider™®.
I was an avid reader and loved science fiction, particularly 70s New Wave and cyberpunk, but also fantasy, sword and sorcery, and horror. I favoured authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Vonda K. McIntyre, Karl Edward Wagner, Robert E. Howard, Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, and Robert McGammon. At one point, I owned about a three thousand books, comics, and graphic novels.
For a while I took a break from geekdom and, shamefully, during my first official computer lesson at Bournemouth Uni using a Fat Mac (hey, Apple fan boiz and grrrlz, these Macs were terrible and always were crashing) I actually broke the machine within a few seconds of booting, by putting a 3.5' floppy disk into the drive upside down. Why? So that the 'coin thingy' wouldn't fall out. In my defence I'd never owned or used a floppy drive before this time.
As well as books and comics, I was heavily into graphic novels and almost enjoyed frequent visits to London's Forbidden Planet. I said 'almost' because it was marred by a member of staff, at one of the store's older locations, who was a compulsive Hawkwind fan. Can anyone tell me why the hell Hawkwind's Ghost Dance was always, ALWAYS playing over the PA? I hate that goddamn song.
Geekdulthood: I spent many years in IT doing fun things like 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line support, systems analysis, data modelling, project management, development, and web design in the UK and Canada, before realizing that while technology was great, working with other people in technology sucked ('L'enfer, c'est les autres'; Satre was right). Of even greater suckage was management and HR (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Like Scott Adams, I spent most of this time in a bloody cubical. BOFH had it easy.
Then in 2005 I accidentally got married (and then, after too long, very unmarried). Tip: shortly before nuptial bliss, make sure to wire your future spouse to a polygraph. Then get them to watch Star Wars or Star Trek. During the screening occasionally ask the intended if they are enjoying it. If the chart spikes violently and frequently, and they start having seizures unrelated to strobe lighting induced epileptic fits (genuine medical conditions are, of course, excusable), take this as a hint that life partnership may not be on the cards. Admittedly, for the sake of comedy (I actually had far more serious reasons to divorce), I'm being overly critical about geek/non-geek mixed marriages. Levity aside, the presence of some degree of geek compatibility could, at the very least, be a preliminary indicator of possible matrimonial bliss. It's just not everything, so don't get hung up if your paramour isn't into your shiny, shiny Sith 'pyjamas' (complete with full face Vader helmet and respirator).
For a long time now, I've been out of the server cupboard and proud of it, and I'm OK. But remember, norms, earning genuine geek credibility takes years of blood, sweat, and tears, so don't jump on the bandwagon unless you have the scars to prove it.
LLAP. MTFBWY. KBN. NNS.
P.S. This post was updated today. To begin with, and despite its length, it wasn't encyclopedic and I probably won't update it again, so assume continuing nerdery after this date. Happy Halloween's Eve my nerd brethren and sistren. (2017-10-30).