Monday, November 21, 2011

They're Playing My Song

It seems this Christmas, two of my favorite forms of geekery will be combined, as the Doctor does "Narnia" in the Christmas episode:

Sometimes I feel like they're writing these things just for me. This is a case where I don't feel the need for the tinfoil hat to keep them out of my head.

On an entirely unrelated note (other than that I was on YouTube), when this becomes available for Android, I may have to get it -- the Brian Blessed alarm clock app. I don't use my phone as an alarm clock except when I travel, but this would be a fun way to wake up:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

X-Files Nostalgia

The sf/fantasy/related stuff blog has started doing a rewatch of The X-Files, and that's brought me right back to my Stealth Geek roots. When that show first came on, I had one long-distance friend who watched it, and every episode left me dying to talk about it. At the same time, people were starting to really talk about this "Internet" thing, and we'd finally got access at work. I was working at a university medical center and had a pre-Windows computer, so Internet access meant a VAX, text-only, which mostly meant e-mail. I read a magazine article about how X-Files fandom was really taking off on the Internet in this USENET group called, and I set out to find a way to access it. I ended up finding a way to use gopher to get to a read-only newsgroup server to read the messages, and then found a mail-to-news gateway for making posts. It was like a whole new world opened up for me. I'd usually been the solitary geek in any group I hung around with, barring the college years when I had a big group of geek friends. This was like finding my college friends all over again, but there were hundreds of them, all over the world. It was awesome.

I even got lured away to another job based almost entirely on the basis that the new place offered full Internet access. I could finally get onto a real USENET server. Then I really started posting and having conversations. I made some friends I'm still in touch with (and at least one person who turned out to be someone I knew from my professional life). The term "Stealth Geek" got coined when we were discussing Mulder. He had very much a geeky personality, but was kind of a sex symbol and not the way the media usually portray people with his interests. The Lone Gunmen are the more typical media geeks. The term "Stealth Geek" really touched a nerve, and next thing I knew, it had become this thing that took on a life of its own.

Eventually, I made friends at the new job who were also into the show, so I had real-life people to discuss it with. I developed a few other interests so I was less focused in my obsession. And, let's face it, the show started kind of sucking. Still, I went to an X-Files convention, where I won a trivia contest and got to meet William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man himself (who may be the most charming man I've ever met -- I switched my character loyalties on the spot. Mulder who?). My now-defunct pen name was an X-Files reference (although it later became a character on SG-1, but I had it first).

I actually kind of liked the last season because the original characters had started irritating me. Although I will confess to having had a crush on David Duchovny (we share a birthday! It must have been fate!), by the end of his run on the series, he seemed to be phoning it in, and his attitude as seen in talk show appearances irked me because he struck me as being almost embarrassed by his claim to fame, like he wanted to distance himself from those crazy people who liked this show. Now, when a commercial where he's done the voiceover comes on, I have to mute it. I was also an extreme anti-shipper. For one thing, Scully could do better, and Mulder would have needed a lifetime of therapy to be good boyfriend material. For another, I remember all the interviews with Chris Carter from the first season in which he constantly said that Mulder and Scully would never hook up romantically, that he wanted to explore the idea of a man and a woman working together and being friends without going the usual romance route, and I felt rather betrayed that he changed his tune. Then there's the fact that the show lost total control of its own mythology, the outcome of the underlying plot question of the entire series (what happened to Samantha) was incredibly anticlimactic, and the series devolved into self-parody, with way too many self-referential comedy episodes.

Sadly, I find that the show hasn't aged well for me. I've caught reruns when the Sci Fi channel shows them, and I can only watch that last season because it's less of a jolt -- I expect those episodes to be weak, but when it's one I remember as good, I get that embarrassing "I liked this?" response.

I taped the whole series while it was on because at one time, I'd watch it multiple times each week, all the better to discuss all the trivial nuances. I realized this summer that I haven't watched any of those tapes in nearly a decade, and I made the momentous decision to start taping over them instead of buying new tapes (yes, I still use a VCR and don't yet have a DVR). Season 2 of Haven is now where the X-Files used to be (a later season, I think).

So, I guess I won't be participating in the rewatch, although I think I remember the rewatch recapper and some of the commenters from my a.t.x-f. days. I do have the pilot on official VHS (from before the days of DVDs -- and this is a series I'd lost interest in before DVDs became available), so maybe I'll give it another whirl to see if going back to the beginning recaptures my interest. It would be a little sad if something that once was such a huge part of my life had become something that now just irks me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Stealth Geek of the Week: Ben Wyatt

The general idea of the Stealth Geek grew out of a way to describe someone who doesn't fit the usual stereotypical image of a geek but who still is into geeky stuff and who may have geeky traits (see the first post on this blog for the full FAQ).

For an example, I bring you the Stealth Geek of the Week.

This week's Stealth Geek of the Week is the character Ben Wyatt of NBC's Parks and Recreation (played by Adam Scott, and I have no idea if he's a Stealth Geek).

At first glance, Ben seems like your typical buttoned-down business type. He enters the story as a state auditor come to fix the town's troubled finances and ends up staying in town to be assistant city manager. There's nothing obviously geeky about him.

But then his new colleagues get to know him and start understanding the depths of his geekiness, which he constantly denies, claiming that his geeky interests are actually pretty mainstream. Yes, he may refer to Jedi mind tricks in meetings, but everyone's seen Star Wars, right? And there's no point in making jokes about him staying home to rewatch the Lord of the Rings trilogy because he's actually not a huge fan of Peter Jackson's interpretation. If he looks like he's having a bad day, it's silly to ask if it's because A Game of Thrones was canceled. They'd never cancel A Game of Thrones because it has mainstream appeal, and really, it's just telling human stories in a fantasy world.

Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

But his inner geek came out loud and proud when his friends encouraged him to treat himself by buying something that would really make him feel good, even if it's silly, useless and expensive -- and he bought a full-on Batman outfit.

What was lovely was that his friends remained supportive and encouraging instead of mocking him (and, really, they're super Twilight freaks, so they have no room to talk).

However, if he wears the Batman outfit anywhere other than to a costume party or possibly a science fiction or comic book convention, he loses the title of Stealth Geek.

Do you have suggestions for a future Stealth Geek of the week? Let me know! I may not do one every week, and my choice may have nothing to do with recent events, just something I thought about.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Geeky TV

I grabbed this blog address years ago when it became available and have just parked the old Stealth Geek FAQ on it, but I've been thinking it might be fun to have a blog devoted solely to my more geeky interests. There may be some overlap with my writing blog, but here I can go all-out.

Some people are comic book geeks. Others are gamers. Some might like movies. I guess I'm mostly a TV/book geek. I like my science fiction and fantasy, and one of my main reasons for diving into the Internet back in the mid-90s was to find other people I could discuss my favorite TV shows with. I had a phase where I didn't seem to watch anything that didn't involve either vampires, spaceships or aliens. I've since come to be repulsed by vampires (please, make them go away), and I've branched out a bit in my viewing.

Although the Channel Formerly Known as Sci Fi (aka -- shudder -- SyFy) has not lived up to my expectations, they do seem to be pushing all the right buttons for me in most of their summer series. I love the quirky action/humor blend of Warehouse 13, though this season didn't quite work for me and I don't think they've recaptured the essence of what I loved in the first season. The season finale was rather mindblowing, but I don't think I was as freaked out as a lot of people were by some of the events.

Like, for instance, Hitler. I had no idea it was an Internet meme to have "Hitler" respond to various things, using movie clips with made-up subtitles (this same clip seems to be popular), but this made me laugh until I cried, even though I don't entirely agree with the sentiments. It's probably funniest if you don't understand German, and it's loaded with spoilers for the season 3 finale:

I'm rather impressed with how they fit the subtitles to the rhythm and cadence of the speech and the body language.

But my real favorite SyFy summer series is Haven, and that got renewed for a third season yesterday. I'm not a Stephen King fan, but I love this series that's extremely loosely based on his novella "The Colorado Kid." Strangely, the book is a straight mystery while the series is very King-esque paranormal. I get the sense that the writers have spent way too much time on the TV Tropes site, so they know all the usual cliches and deliberately set out to undermine or break them. I've been writing long enough that it's hard to surprise me, plot-wise, but they frequently surprise me. In their podcasts, the writers refer to lots of other things I like, including The X-Files, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, so I figure they're stealth geeks, too.