Thursday, April 05, 2012

Nerd Badge

Via Jaquandor I find this list of 20 things every SF nerd must have (physically or emotionally): "Below is a little checklist of 20 Things Every Sci-Fi Nerd Should Own To Earn, physically as well as emotionally. If you 'own' at least twelve of these twenty things, you are entitled to your SCI-FI Nerd Badge."

Now, I have my Nerd Badge because I earned it, not because some arbitrary online list says I'm "entitled." And I earned it back in the days before the internet, back when you would get your ass kicked for saying you liked Transformers, back when you were lucky to find a single local comic book store, back before everything vaguely geeky was suddenly mainstream cool. I'm not bitter about it--hey, the more the merrier, and the more genre stuff being produced increases the chance of finding really good stuff instead of having to see Cyborg because it's one of the only science fiction movies coming out that year--but, come on, you don't tell me if I have a Nerd Badge, got it?

So, what do I own here?

1) Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack

I think this is probably the only one on here that I think is a really interesting, surprising choice. And yes, I do have this; I wore out my tape when I was just learning to drive, and then I bought the CD, which is expanded. Basil Poledouris's score is my favorite film music of all time. You can just sit and listen to this without the film and enjoy it as its own narrative, like a series of tone poems.

2) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

I do own this. I first read this in high school, in my Science Fiction Lit elective. I actually have a small number of Phillip K. Dick novels and a five-volume short story collection.

3) The Twilight Zone Collection

I do not own this, but I can watch it on Netflix streaming. I've been thinking of doing a re-watch of this one... well, it wouldn't all be a re-watch, but I've seen a great deal of it in my life. Maybe after I finally finish Enterprise...

4) The Original Star Wars Trilogy – WITHOUT ANY ADDED CRAP

Technically I don't and neither do you. For as much as the fandamentalists get all picky about what is and isn't the "original" experience of Star Wars, they seem to not notice the little changes made in the theatrical re-releases that occurred before they were made available on home video, or in, say, the 35mm and 70mm versions of The Empire Strikes Back, both released in 1980. Hell, when Star Wars was released, it didn't say "Episode IV: A New Hope." Didn't say that until 1981. Oh, wait... you say that the addition was made to give a uniform appearance to the series of films? Hmm... so in this case it's okay? I wonder what the difference is...

Seriously, I'm just so sick of the fantard whining. It's starting to get impossible to like these films again just because of the whining that's been associated with them. At what point did it become a virtue to harbor a lifelong hatred against a movie that failed to entertain you? Especially those of you old enough to know better? I fucking hated Avatar. Do you think I seethe with anger and betrayal every time that flick gets mentioned? No, because as wrong as my life has ever gone, it's never gone that wrong. I swear fanboys aren't happy unless they're bitching about Star Wars. It's been 29 years, get over Ewoks, already. And anyone my age who says they "always" hated the Ewoks is a poser.

By the way, have you seen all of the entitled fan whining over the new Kinect Star Wars game? It is truly hilarious, watching people cry over how George Lucas "dared" to have dance contests in the game, and how it kills the integrity of whatever boo hoo hoo wah wah. I think it's the best thing ever. I hope George Lucas does this to you idiots on purpose.

So yes, I own the "original" trilogy a few times over. I have the VHS boxed set that came out some time in the early 90s (a Christmas present), even though I can't watch it since we don't have a VCR anymore. I also have the widescreen THX-certified box set that came out right before the Special Editions were theatrically released. Although the THX sound might be added crap, who knows with you people.

5) A Profound Hatred for Star Trek Enterprise

Again, is it really a virtue to have a hatred for a TV show? I mean, either you liked it or you didn't or you had mixed feelings, but a "profound hatred"? Get over yourself! Not being entertained by something is not a character-defining trait. And if it is, it's a sign of lousy character.

Of course, I'm seeing Enterprise for the first time now, and there's a lot there that I like. I think the show doesn't live up to its potential because it falls back on creators who aren't very interested in doing anything new with it, but are instead milking a franchise, which is a shame. Missed opportunity. But I still feel more engaged than I did with Voyager, which is perhaps why the disappointing episodes are so disappointing.

6) The Lord of The Rings Extended Edition, The Soundtracks and all of the books

I echo Jaquandor: what does "all of the books" mean. I own LOTR, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion (and a couple of other non-Middle-earth Tolkien books). I have the theatrical DVDs and the Extended Edition DVDs (which I've been itching to watch again; it's been just long enough to really be wowed by them again), and the soundtrack CDs. These were actually the last film scores I rushed out to buy. Since then, I've not heard much that really moved me. I'm not one of those "Film music is dead!" people, but I just haven't heard a lot that I think are really, truly great.

Also, I have bunch of LOTR action figures.

I'm counting this one.

7) A Profound Sadness for the Way Battlestar Galactica Ended

I've yet to see BSG. There was a certain fan stridency that turned me off at the time, and before I did my DS9 watch, I (wrongly, as it turned out) blamed Ronald Moore for a lot of the crappiness that happened to Trek. Plus, it just looked too derivative of Farscape at a time when I had decided to no longer watch the Sci-Fi Channel for canceling Farscape. Ever since then, I've been wary of getting attached to SF shows. I didn't even watch the new Doctor Who until its first two seasons had aired.

8 ) A Passionately Favorite Version of the REAL Doctor Who

Is the revival series not the "real" Doctor Who? See, this is the kind of fandamentalist whining that makes it so hard to be a genre fan sometimes... The first Doctor Who I ever saw, incidentally, was the much-derided 1996 TV movie with Paul McGann. About the only useful thing my roommate at the time did was introduce me to the rest of the Doctor Who universe. I've honestly never been able to really settle on a favorite Doctor; Tom Baker is magical, and Peter Davison is wonderful, but Jon Pertwee is so dashing and fun, and I do love William Hartnell as the Doctor. There's no "one true Doctor" for me.

I'm not going to count myself on this one because the whole passionately strident about one specific thing hoo-har is the worst part of fandom.

9) A Fear That Will Smith Will Someday Star in The Movie Adaptation of Your Favorite Book

Meh. I don't like Will Smith--I'm pretty bloody sick of him--but I'm not one of those guys who gets all pissed off about a shitty movie being made from a book I like. So they made a shitty movie? Still have my book. Get over it.

10) Toys from Your Childhood That You Refuse To Part With

Sure. Hell, I still have a number of my original Star Wars figures. They're not preserved in amber anywhere, they're just in the bin with the toys that aren't on display. I also have my first Kermit the Frog stuffed toy, and a Winnie the Pooh doll from when I was an infant. I'm not passionately hoarding them, I've just never wanted to get rid of them.

I have a bunch of my old GI Joe figures, too. Kept the ones I wanted and dumped the rest.

11) The Belief that the Word Midichlorian Was Just from a Nightmare and NOT a real Star Wars Movie

Midichlorians don't bother me. Again, I agree with Jaquandor: what was the point of having them? I guess when Chancellor Palpatine explains how the midichlorians could be manipulated to result in the birth of a powerful Sith, they make sense. I didn't like how they made Jedi seem like a master race in the interim between Episodes I and III. But again, seriously, if this is still a passionate topic of debate with you 13 years later, get back on your meds.

12) The Original TRON Movie

I saw Tron when I was about 16 or 17. Caught it on television once and found it thoroughly boring (except for Cindy Morgan and the Wendy Carlos score). I've always thought I'd go back to it and check it out again, but after being thoroughly bored with Tron: Legacy (except for the Daft Punk score), I'm probably going to give it a pass.

13) An affection for the TV show Firefly

No, not in the least. I've tried to watch it and just didn't care for it at all. I feel that way about most of Joss Whedon's output, though I've got my fingers crossed for The Avengers.

14) A Hatred for Chris O’Donnell

I have no opinion of Chris O'Donnell. Batman Forever and Batman and Robin have so many other things wrong with them. And if you're going to pick on anyone's performance in Batman Forever, why Chris O'Donnell's? Everyone pretty much sucks in that stupid movie. Except for Michael Gough. And Ed Begley, Jr. He gave me the movie's one genuine laugh.

15) You Know Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics

Indeed! And I've also read a lot of Isaac Asimov, something that used to be a sign of being a geek before it became 97% about movies, television and comics...

16) You think Cheetara is HOT!

When I was 10, sure.

17) You Believe Aliens are our REAL Gods

I don't believe in aliens or gods. I believe in the probability of aliens.

18) You Have a Favorite Animated Cult Sci-Fi Movie

I'm not even sure what would count here. Heavy Metal's an okay movie. The Iron Giant is SF but hardly cult; I don't think there's a cult around Titan AE, either, although I think it's pretty underrated. Is the 1986 Transformers: The Movie a cult flick, because I love that movie.

Oh, I guess Starchaser: The Legend of Orin must count. I dig that movie. I have that on DVD.

19) You Blame Hot Rod for Optimus Prime’s Death

Well, he did get in the way, but it's really the fault of Hasbro for misjudging how much kids loved Optimus Prime. They had to undo the whole thing, anyway.

20) You DESPISE Michael Bay for Masturbating on your Childhood

Meh. There are lots of reasons to hate Michael Bay. I was disappointed in Transformers, but it's not like I couldn't pop the DVD of the 1986 flick into the DVD player if I wanted to revisit the characters. And as for what he said about the upcoming TMNT movie... who cares? They haven't made a good Ninja Turtles movie ever, it's not like I expect them to start now.

Even being generous, I put myself at eight. But since I think this is a pretty limited measure of a person's state of inner geek, it doesn't really bug me. What about those of us who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons with a very small group of people because people made fun of you for playing it? What about being one of the first people in the neighborhood to even own a personal computer and play text adventure games on it? How about being part of a mailing group devoted to one particular fandom long before you could go on the internet and get lectured about Robert E. Howard by little punks? Have you ever driven to another state to buy used books because it was the only way you could get a copy of Phillip Jose Farmer's Tarzan Alive or find the really early issues of Cerebus or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

I don't know, the more I look at this, the more I'm kind of glad I don't have a lot of the superficial qualities that qualify me for this particular Nerd Badge. Being defined by your stupid disappointments is petty and makes you pretty boring and small. There's so much to enjoy in genre, why would you obsess over the things you don't like? Because you can't get over it?

Then why do I want to talk to you?


Caffeinated Joe said...

I agree with ya. No one needs to tell anyone what they have to have in order to "be" something. Well, maybe doctors and lawyers, LOL

Everyone is different, to each their own. Adage, cliches, but well know for a reason!


Jason said...

One big flaw with this list (and with most of the similar Internet quizzes I've encountered) is that it's reflective of the age of whoever drew it up, and they're apparently younger than me. At 42, I'm just a hair too old to have had much interest in Transformers or Thundercats, for example, but I grew up on the 1970s reruns of the original Star Trek, and I still have my Six Million Dollar Man doll, and it doesn't get much nerdier than that. At least it didn't, back in the '70s -- especially the pre-1977 '70s.

I am secure in my nerdiness.

Tallulah Morehead said...

When I was young, you knew you were a true sci-fi person because you knew the real difference between Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Ray Harryhausen's The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was the mood!, you knew that the name "George Pal" meant wonder and that the name Bert I. Gordon meant schlock, and you knew that black & white was better than color.

Let's see if I still qualify.

Item #1. Conan the Barbarian soundtrack. Well we certainly agree there. I still have the Vynal album, as well as the casette tape. I still need to get the CD. Great score. Only yesterday when I was in the kitchen, the station I had on, which plays movie and Broadway music, played "The Anvil of Crom" and I trotted out to listen, and to crank back the DVR to listen three more times.

What a shame the movie created to accompany the music was such garbage.

Item #2. I'm told it's good. I only read Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I was busy reading almost all of Heinlein and Arthur C. CLarke, and HG Wells and Jules Verne. (I expect a new book on Verne in my mail delivery today.)

#3. Well, bear in mind that I was watching The Twilight Zone shows when they were first broadcast. I had seen every episode more than 4 times each before you were born. I don't really have a deep need to ever see them again. They were great, but been three, done that, 5 times at least. But it was nice, when I found myself sitting next to Earl Holliman in a theater once, to be able to say: "You starred in the pilot for The Twilight Zone." He was used to being pinned down about Forbidden Planet but he was prouder of launching Twilight Zone.

Also bear in mind that, at best, Twilight Zone was only about 50% sci-fi. There was every bit as much fantasy as sci-fi. Shows about selling your soul to the devil, fairy godfathers, guardian angels, wish fullfillments, ironic wish fullfillments, and so on are not sci-fi. If, in 1962, you said you were a science-fiction fan, this meant you watched The Outer Limits, which was pure science-fiction. No fantasy need apply.

#4. I threw out my VHS Star Wars copies and have all 6 on DVD. I don't give a crap whether they are the films as they were in 1978 or have the IMPROVED special effects used to upgrade them later. (Do sci-fi nerds call out Bill Gates every time he upgrades their systems? Do they accuse him of pissing on their childhoods for not still using DOS systems?)

Maybe it's because I turned 27 the week the first Star Wars movie was released. On the other hand, when Mary Martin reshot Peter Pan in color in 1960, instead of still using the black & white version she did in 1956, I did not get all upset because she "pissed all over my childhood."

You see, amongst adult sci-fi fans in 1977, Star Wars was not even called "science fiction"; it was "Space Opera." It looked pretty, but was basically childish nonsense for children. Serious sci-fi fans looked down on it. Serious sci-fi fans were still besotted by 2001: A Space Odyssey.

#5. Okay, with you there. I don't know that my hatred for it is "profound." Profundity is not something I associate with Star Trek, but it's the only Star Trek series I ever gave up on.

Tallulah Morehead said...

(To continue)

#6. How is Lord of the Rings science fiction? Please, how? It is not science fiction, not remotely science fiction. So item 6 has no business on this list, though it is needed on any Fantasy Nerd Badge list.

That said, I have the extended edition DVDs, and lovely, deluxe hardcovers of the trilogy, The Silmarillion, and The Annotated The Hobbit. I only have the soundtrack for the first LOTR film, as the scores for the second and third were just enlarging on it. And my hardcover Return of the King is signed on the title page by Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Sir Ian McKellen, Sal "Sauron" Baker, and Sean Astin. That's right; it's signed by both Gandalf and Sauron. Out-nerd that!

But it still has nothing to do with science fiction. Nothing at all.

#7. I guess I lose my badge then, as I never watched it, and don't give a rat's ass how it ended, let alone how it began or what went on in the middle.

#8. Well I am passionate about Doctor Who and have been since around 1982. As far as I'm concerned, the revival is still the "Real" Doctor. Tom Baker is my favorite Doctor, but that's because his were the shows I saw first, and I saw every Tom Baker episode twice before I ever got to see anyone else in the role. But I embraced Jon Pertwee in the role, and highly enjoy the handful of Patrick Troughton episodes that survive. I don't like William Hartnell, but that's personal. In one book on the series it was revealed that when they shot a Doctor Who story with Max Adrian in it, Hartnell refused to do scenes with him because "Adrian was both Jewish and gay." Apparently just being Jewish or just being gay was okay, but being both was too much for Hartnell. Okay, he was of The Nazi Generation (What Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation" somehow not ironically), but he was supposed to be on the other side.

Had Paul McGann been my first Doctor, I probably would never have seen a second, though Colin Baker is the absolute worst Doctor.

#9. I sympathize. Will Smith a towering bore, and his kids are even worse, but unless he comes into my home and takes away my copy of my favorite novel. It's not a problem. My signed copy if the novel I Am Legend is still sitting on shelf in my bedroom, between Hell House and The Shrinking Man. Smith's crap movie didn't affect it.

In an interview once, a reporter asked Stephen King how he felt about Stanley Kubrick "ruining your book, The Shining". King said: "He didn't ruin my book. Look, there it is on that shelf behind you. It's just fine. He did make a poor movie."

#10. That's just a sign of arrested adolescence. The number of toys I have from my childhood that I refuse to part with are none at all. I have books I've owned for 60 years, but no toys.

#11. Another sign of arrested adolescence. Since I was 50 before I ever heard the word "midicholorians," I couldn't really act out like an emotionally-stunted 10 year old over a stupidity in a series that had always depended on the stupidity of strangers to get by.

#12. I saw the original Tron the weekend it opened. Never again since. Like all true, serious science fiction fans, I recognized it as idiocy, and boring idiocy at that, and taking the amazing step of taking two then-gorgeous leading men and making them look like unsexy crap for 2 hours. Owning a copy of the original should lose one's sci-fi credentials, not gain them.

Tallulah Morehead said...

(to finish)

#13. Never watched it.

#14. I was tempted to type "Who?" but I know who he is, and again, why care? He was in a ghastly Batman movie, or was it two? I have never seen the Shumaker Batmen movies a second time. Why would anyone watch them twice? In any event, he was not anywhere near what was worst in those movies. And he was an improvement over Burt Ward!

#15. Yes. And I do.

#16. Cheetera who? This time I'm not joking. I have no idea who or what that is.

#17. There are no gods, only monsters. I accept the possibility of aliens, but to believe in them I would require proof.

#18. Would Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow count?

#19. Who? You see, serious science fiction fans have not seen any of the Transformer movies, which is pap for children.

Finally #20. I'm older than Michael Bay, so he didn't piss on my childhood. In fact, since the amount of money I have spent seeing Michael Bay movies is $0.00, he hasn't even pissed in my wallet.

But if you ever find those guys who tore down the Fantasyland at Disneyland that I grew up visiting, and in 1982, replaced it with one that was much friggin' better, let them know they pissed all over my childhood, by making it better!

Interesting column; it is nice to be reminded why I stopped going to sci-fi conventions about 25 years ago. When the days of Harlan Ellison doing live readings of his newest story, or of Larry Niven begging fans not to vote for Superman, the Movie for Best Science Fiction movie because it was not science fiction, passed into the days of people discussng Transformer movies and bitching about special effects updates on children movies, I headed for the exit.

SamuraiFrog said...

Cheetara is a character from the 80s cartoon ThunderCats, and Hot Rod and Optimus Prime from Transformers. When I was 9 and 10, those were two of my favorite cartoons. They're also two that I grew out of by the time I hit 11. It's odd to me that some people never got over those. I'm not saying I'm any better than anyone else, but I remember taking a look at the Transformers cartoons when they started to hit VHS around 1999. I was working at a Hollywood Video and put them in, curious because I was so into them when I was a kid...and then realizing they were something only a 10 year old could really be enthusiastic over.

Michael Bay's movie didn't piss on my childhood, it was just incredibly bad. I think it's idiotic to still be upset over it, but apparently that's an essential part of fandom for some.

I also agree with you about LOTR. How is it science fiction? How is Conan, for that matter? That's why I kept saying "genre," because this was sort of all over.

God, The Outer Limits is good. I used to watch the reruns every morning before high school; it was on a local channel at six in the morning every weekday. I was always waiting for the Harlan Ellison episodes to show up. I was very enthusiastic when we ended up watching the episode "Soldier" in my SF Lit class.

The first convention I ever went to was in 1996, just before my 20th birthday. A friend from high school got me free weekend passes and Harlan Ellison was there. That was pretty amazing; I got a number of books signed by him and even made him laugh once (ruefully, when I brought up his I, Robot screenplay; I asked him if he ever thought it would get made and he laughed and then said "Like we say back home, that dog just ain't gonna hunt!"). Since then, Wizard magazine has bought out that convention and now it's all media stars and no SF writers. Real shame. Real, real shame.

Anonymous said...

where's the fanac in the list? it's all passive consuming bar the never-ending kvetching

a sercon trufan

GarrettCRW said...

The Max Adrian story is more than a bit dubious, given that Hartnell had previously worked with him and had no problems with him. While Hartnell definitely had his issues, most of his problems spring up after Verity Lambert left the show (as she was apparently able to keep him satisfied, or at least in check). Wiles and Tosh never really cared about the show as much as Hartnell did, as evidenced by the enormous fit that not only Hartnell, but Maureen O'Brien and Peter Purves had during the making of Galaxy 4, which cost O'Brien her job.

As for Star Wars, if Lucas would just release the original versions with his "improved" cuts, there'd be a hell of a lot less whining. If the Star Trek original series Blu-rays can do it, George Lucas sure as hell can.

SamuraiFrog said...

Aren't the Star Trek blu-rays the ones with the new (better) special effects, though?

GarrettCRW said...

The Star Trek Blu-rays have both versions using branching, plus the original mono audio and the tricked-out 7.1 track. They're the very example that Lucas could have and should have set with Star Wars.

Don B said...

I tend to agree that the focus of this list is far to dependent on a persons age. I saw Star Wars 12 times when it came out (in very, very long lines before the invention of the mega-plex) and sat enthralled watching the original Battlestar Galactica every week as a kid. I am also old enough to remember fondly Starlog Magazine. It seems this list is less about being a SF nerd and more about beeing a SF nerd wannabe.