Posts Tagged ‘nerd’

QotD: Books From My Childhood

December 11, 2006

What books did you love as a child?
Submitted by hearts.

Some of my favorite books growing up were the ‘Clue’ mysteries, based on the popular board game. There were 18 in total, each containing ten self-contained stories. These stories featured a wide variety of mysteries, ranging from who stole the last piece of cake to who killed Mr. Boddy. It should be of no surprise to anyone that I wasn’t very good at solving these mysteries. I mostly read them for their (seemingly) sophisticated humor, and because I was obsessed with the board game.


Poor Mr.Boddy. Although he was only a corpse in the board game, here he was a real-life, interesting character. These stories helped to flesh out the world of ‘Clue,’ and made you care about Mr. Boddy before he was ‘killed’ off in the final chapter of each book. Don’t worry, though, in the next installment he would miraculously reappear, ready to invite back the guests who had just attempted to kill him. Part of me always felt sorry for the guy; although none of my houseguests had attempted to push me down the stairs (that I know of) I knew what it was like to have rude houseguests.

I remember begging my Mom to take me to local book stores, searching desperately for the missing books in my collection. Before the days of the internet or Barnes & Noble, finding certain books became quite an undertaking. Of the collection I think I only ended up with a dozen before I lost interest in the series as a whole. Elementary school students are incredibly fickle, and by the time I had given up on Clue I was into fantasy novels by way of Tolkien, Lewis, and Baum.

In Search of Bro: Part 2

November 24, 2006

“Bro” isn’t exactly a new term to me. I grew up in the late 80’s/early90’s when California surf culture was thriving. Once bizarre words such as “Gnarly,” “Tubular,” or “Awesome,” became everyday slang for much of the country, and “Bro” found its way into the American vernacular. When I think of “Bro” it’s that image, a shaggy-haired surfer and a neon green board that pops into my head.

Others think of “Bro” as being a shortened version of “Brother,” which brings forth images of African-Americans, or perhaps just a beatnik or two. Johnny, the monster who had failed to address in the first place, didn’t seem to fit any of these stereotypes. He was just one of the countless Abercrombie and Fitch rejects who paraded around my hometown in their raised trucks and eXtreme* attitude.


After sharing my story with other servers at the restaurant I began to learn a lot about the associations others make with the word “Bro.” For most it is merely a generic synonym for “Dude,” but in some cases it carries a very specific and (some would say) vicious meaning.

Rather than try to explain it myself, I thought I’d let Wikipedia do it. The fact that Wikipedia had an entry devoted to such things amuses me to no end.

Bro, or Flatbiller, is a synonym for a member of a Southern California subculture. The subculture is primarily centered around Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside County, San Diego, and San Bernardino…

…Bros tend to operate lifted trucks and have a large sticker or design on the back window of their truck. They wear flat-billed hats turned to the side or bent up and talk about dirt bikes (usually accompanied by tattoos and/or stretched ears). These gentlemen with a rough-exterior warmheartedly refer to each other as “Bro” and partake in drinking and proving their masculinity by means of riding bikes or fighting, although they usually back down after being threatened. An average Bro is a Construction worker or unemployed…”

I wasn’t aware that these young men I was surrounded with all shared a label. They’re like a gang, only terribly disorganized, non-threatening, and borderline stupid. The worst part is that in ten years they will all be running the state when they inherit family businesses.

When he greeted the new trainee was he simply acknowledging the presence of an equal? Being so different from the two was I perceived not to be a threat, and therefore not worth talking to in the first place?

While I may never know, I did learn more about Bros than I once thought possible. Next time I’m just going to admit to myself that nobody likes me and deal with it.

*eXtreme is a term I use to describe people who buy their “attitude” from a skateboard shop.

In Search of Bro: Part One

November 23, 2006

At work today I decided to make a motivated effort to speak to the latest trainees at the Macaroni Grill. Turnover is terrible in pretty much any job I could get at this point, but there things seem to get progressively worse as time goes on. My poor restaurant is violently understaffed, which only serves to foster a whole slew of problems. As a result, the only people I bother to speak to are the more experienced ones, and have created good working relationships with all of them.

Anyway, Johnny, a fellow server, had entered the restaurant while I was speaking to the trainee, and, as it turns out, was running quite late. He was just about to rush past us when he made eye contact with the trainee.

“What’s up, bro?” he asked, giving the newcomer a “high five.”

Despite being interrupted, I bit my tongue and waited patiently for the exchange to end. Johnny and I are on good terms, or so I thought, there was no reason to cause trouble over something as minor as being interrupted.

Unfortunately it did not stop there, for it was what he didn’t do next that drove me over the edge. Johnny simply walked away and proceeded to clock into the computer without even bothering to greet me. The nerve!

Where was my “high five?” What had I done to him that would cause him to disrespect me so? Hurt and offended, my first instinct was to call Johnny out on it. This was not about him not greeting me, it could have been anyone. I don’t care. This was about the only thing I truly cared about: The Principle.

When confronted about the issue, Johnny was quick to apologize for anything he had done to upset me, even offering me a “special high-five” as condolence. By then (80 seconds later) it was too late to repair the damage that easily, and my keen, analytical mind began to try and decipher the reasons as to why I was slighted. Seeing as his greet consisted of only three words there was very little to decipher, so it was easy for me to determine that the conclusion to his three-pronged attack was key.

“‘Bro?’ What exactly is a ‘Bro'” I asked myself, “And why aren’t I one?”

Come back for the second part of my investigation tomorrow, when things take a surprising turn!

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Cooler Than You: Stan Lee and Al Jolson

November 2, 2006

As some might know, on Monday night I attended a screening of Spider-Man 2 at the world-famous Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I’ve seen Spider-Man 2 more times than I’d like to mention, but what was so special about this screening was that it was hosted by Stan Lee and Kevin Smith!

Unfortunately, aside from the overhwhelming coolness of the whole thing, there isn’t very much to report. My camera wasn’t allowed inside the theater, and they rushed Stan and Kevin so much that they didn’t even bother to answer any audience questions. It was a fun experience, though, and I’m thrilled just to have been in the same room with Stan Lee. Hearing personal stories about Dr. Doom or Fin Fang Foom was icing on the cake.

Much like Bob Barker, Stan Lee was one of those people I wanted to see in person at least once before they retired in seclusion or um… you know. Hopefully I will see him again at Comic-Con 2007, but that place is such a mess I’m not even sure I want to attend.

Another positive note: I stumbled across Al Jolson’s footprints in front of the theater.

Al Jolson


Some Toys Scare Me: TMX

September 26, 2006

I’m a huge fan of toys. At the very least, I’m a huge fan of toy stores. The novelty of most toys wears off for me after a few minutes, so rather than spending my money on an Easy Bake Oven I can go to the store, stare at the box for a few moments, and leave satisfied. Those few toys that I do buy usually end up on display in my bedroom, although that’s not really an option for my current living situation. One day I tried bringing a Batman Lego set to the apartment, and Aaron made me put it together in the closet.

Anyway, my outrageously heterosexual friend Steve came over the other day, claiming he had something that he needed to show me right away. Me, fearing for the worst, figured it was a new addition to his vast gun collection, or some kind of annoying Flash animation.

Sadly, this was much worse that I could have possibly ever imagined.

For some reason Steve was walking through the toy aisles at Target when he stumbled across a large crowd of parents lining up to get a copy of the new Tickle Me Elmo 10th Anniversary Doll, Codenamed “TMX.” Seeing an opportunity, he lined up with the group and purchased two of the dolls on the spot. From there he went straight to my apartment to show the dumb thing off.

I can’t really explain why Elmo frightens me, but I think a big part of it is the full range of movement it has. When I was a child I had a Teddy Ruxpin doll; although it was a Great-Grandfather to TMX in a lot of ways, all it could really do was move its’ mouth and read a story.

Elmo is smart — really smart. Also, a bastard. If you ignore him for a few minutes, he will ask why you aren’t tickling him. Then when you do tickle him, he begs for you to stop! He can’t make up his mind, and it drives me insane. Growing up I was never concerned that Teddy might start a machine uprising against me and my loved ones. With Elmo I think about it constantly.

Thankfully Steve auctioned off both of these monsters online for a tidy profit, and with them sold out across the country I won’t have to worry about the invasion for a while at least.

Word Games

September 22, 2006

I’ve been obsessed with word games lately.

Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession

That’s not to say there was ever a time in my life where I wasn’t interested in word games, but over the Summer things have gotten much, much worse. It was during July’s family reunion cruise when I picked up a copy of Marc Romano’s ‘Crossworld,’ a quirky and interesting read about the history and current state of America’s crossword puzzle scene.

Yes, America has a crossword puzzle scene and yes, I read a book about it.

Anyway, crosswords are generally too difficult and time-consuming for me, so my games of choice are USA Today’s Quick Cross and Up & Down Words. I usually play these at work, where the slow autumn shifts give me an exorbitant amount of time to fill between waiting on tables. What I enjoy most about them is that they are short, sweet, and trivia based, which is a speciality fo mine.

Every so often the references are incredibly dated, and I have to ask around for help. On more than one occasion I’ve asked my tables for help with a certain word clue, and the guests seem more amused by this than anything else.

Surprisingly, my love of the USA Today puzzles has spread onto my co-workers. Each day the complimentary newspapers the Macaroni Grill receives are torn to pieces, with every server taking a copy of the puzzles section for themselves.

I have a feeling this is going to get me into trouble down the line with my managers, but as far as I can tell they’re just upset that they aren’t smart enough to solve the puzzles themselves.

Try them for yourselves online!

USA TODAY Quick Cross

USA TODAY Up & Down Words

My Modern League

August 30, 2006

Today I was bored and decided to come up with my own modern-day League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is an idea that has been floating on various comics blogs, so I figured that I (and my handful of readers) could come up with some interesting teams.

The rules here are simple: Assemble a team of fictional characters from various forms of fiction (movies, literature, comic books, video games and/or television.) The definition of ‘modern’ is a loose one, so feel free to toy around with anything you feel would work. Since they are working as a team, try to stay away from icons, since they are either too powerful or too important (and will therefore overshadow the rest of the team.)

An example for an interesting team might be Solid Snake, Hermoine Granger, The Incredible Hulk, Rambo and Emma Peel.

Please try to name a leader if possible, since without a leader there would hardly be a team in the first place.


1) Leader: Carmen San Diego (Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?) is probably the greatest thief in video gaming, and an interesting personality to boot. Always a step ahead of her opponent, Carmen would function very well as the brains behind the group’s various missions. I was considering putting The Riddler (Batman) as the group’s leader, but I feel like Carmen was a more interesting and unique choice.

2) Space Ghost (Space Ghost) has a wide-variety of amazing abilities, and is a proven combatant. He could easily lead the team, but works best as a powerhouse waiting in the wings.

3) Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle) would be the muscle of my team. Her physical prowess, combined with natural instinct and combat skills more than justify her reasons for being in the group.

4) Hadji (The Adventures of Jonny Quest) is an experienced adventurer and the adopted son of a brilliant scientist. This gives the team a much-needed push in the brains department while not sacrificing combat prowess. Also important to note is that Hadji has trained in the mystic arts, and those skills would likely grow as he became an adult.

5) Hellboy (Hellboy) would be the team’s heavy hitter and a doorway into many supernatural elements that the group might encounter. He is arguably the most powerful member of the group, but his attitude really hurts how effectively he could act as a team player. This was an especially odd choice because after my internship at Dark Horse Comics I decided that I hated him.

Space Ghost was entirely Alan’s suggestion, and it seemed too cool not to use. I really wanted a retro sci-fi hero in the group, so Mr. Ghost worked perfectly. My big concern is that with Hadji and Space Ghost there were too many Hanna-Barbara action stars on the team, but I think they are different enough in terms of ability and personality to justify having them both.

Tarzan was my original choice for Sheena’s spot. However, after careful consideration I decided Tarzan was too obvious a choice, and Sheena would have an interesting “Who the hell?” mystery about them.

So that’s mine. What’s yours?