Monday, January 31, 2011

My Life as a Sci-Fi Nerd

Or, As You Geek It.

So I'm reading Wil Wheaton's Just a Geek, and his story about the Star Wars toy trade that led to his five-dollar candy and videogame spree jarred something loose in my consciousness.  It seems that your general geekery is pretty well established in American culture now, almost ubiquitous.  As Patton Oswalt recently wrote in Wired, "now all America is otaku".  But it wasn't always like this, and I think my generation (which is also Wheaton's) has had a unique experience coming of age in a time of technological innovation and mass media influence in popular culture.

For this series of entries, I conceived to assemble a timeline of the influences that shaped my particular brand of nerdery.  Or should I say, nerdaliciousness.  As Amok says in The Specials, "Quit making up words."  The following bullet points should help illustrate how geek culture infiltrates real life and impacts a person.

I've divided up the eras into separate posts so that it's easier to follow.  But it's still lengthy.  Better pour a nice warm beverage and have a seat.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Operatic Metropolis

Raff came over yesterday to screen my brand new copy of The Complete Metropolis Blu-Ray.  I had screened it shortly after its arrival a couple weeks ago, but it's a whole different experience when you're watching with someone else, conferring, riffing and looking at a piece of cinematic and cultural history with new eyes.

One thing that Raff said that really made sense is that watching most silent films is like watching opera.  The acting is histrionic, the blocking a large-scale pantomime.  Most modern audiences (aside from the history geeks, film geeks and film history geeks) simply don't have the skills required to watch and enjoy a vintage silent film.  Culturally, our attention span has atrophied.  After 80+ years of war, cultural revolution and political scandal, we've become jaded.  The general populace finds it impossible to watch, say, Lon Chaney's Hunchback of Notre Dame without muttering a collective, "How quaint," or, "You mean I have to read these title cards?" or, "Bored now - is American Idol on?"

As a film student, I was forced to watch several silent classics.  Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari were among them.  We got some Mack Sennett and some Harold Lloyd, some Buster Keaton and some D.W. Griffith.  I even did my final report on Charlie Chaplin.  And although my vintage film aesthetics were honed in a scholastic setting, for whatever reason Fritz Lang's Metropolis wasn't part of the curriculum.  I had to seek it out later - first in the form of a public domain chop-fest based on the American brutalization of the original, then in the form of Giorgio Moroder's glorified music video, and finally in its 2002 restored version.  But I was not prepared for what is essentially Lang's original cut (minus 5 or so minutes we'll probably never find), with a brand new symphonic recording of Gottfried Huppertz's original score.  It was like watching a whole different film, with characters and entire plot threads resurrected when they'd previously been excised.

So, while silent film appreciation is a dying critical discipline of a dead art form, The Complete Metropolis is nonetheless a compelling and gorgeous restoration of an influential science fiction masterpiece, full of social commentary and not-so-thinly disguised forecasts of the future.
Without Lang...
...there would be no Blade Runner.
Without Maria... C-3PO.

Also, it's especially enjoyable with Kelpie.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Emerald City is a-Comin'

Things have been crankin' here at the CerebraMill.  Turns out we're much closer to our Ordinary Angels pitch than we presumed, and preparation continues on the Airship Daedalus property which launches officially the Sunday before Emerald City Comicon

In brainstorming promotional ideas for Daedalus, Brian Beardsley and I were chatting about getting some cheap plastic secret decoder rings made, a la the classic pulp radio & television serials.  But then I had the idea of taking the secret code element and merging it with a collectible postcard...

Character bio on the front:

Cipher wheel on the back:
Every Sunday we'll release a new strip, and include an encoded message for our faithful readers.  It might be a clue to future story events, or it may be some hidden background elements.  In any case, I can assure you it will never say, "BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE."  Unless Ovaltine suddenly decides to sponsor the site, in which case all bets are off.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's One Louder, Innit?

Many thanks to This is Spinal Tap for all the great references to eleven we can make regarding the new year, including the title of wifey's current blog entry.

It's been a busy holiday season, hence the whopping TWO entries for December.  Let me fill you in on what's been going on:

  • Opened and closed It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Kenyon Hall, which I've talked about extensively here.
  • Finished and submitted our Airship Daedalus feature for the debut issue of Mash Tun, to be released at ECC this year.
  • Christmas was low-key and we did zero traveling, which led to a much nicer, calmer and less stressful holiday within the immediate family unit.  I got some DVDs (including the out-of-print Dead Can Dance Toward the Within live concert, taken from the tour Sam & I got to see in the front row on our anniversary when they played the Moore Theatre in 1993) and some cool books and some very useful gift cards, with which I got this, and this, and this.
  • Hosted my family for a post-Christmas Christmas gathering on the 29th.  I baked a ham, roasted potatoes and made my specialty salad (mixed baby greens, red grapes, dried cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese with a raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing).  My stepdad brought homemade orange cheesecake.  You know you're jealous.
  • Got to have drinks with Muriel, who has the distinction of being the catalyst for Raechelle's and my meeting.  Rae tells the story in her post, and of course the whole thing is laid out in our blogs.
  • Spent New Year's Eve at dinner with Steve, Steph and Isabella, followed by drinks and snacking and general merriment at Dan & Trish's with some other friends as well.  The kids went to spend the night with Uncle Gavin & Aunt Michelle in Poulsbo, playing boardgames and having fun.
  • Seahawks second string QB Charlie Whitehurst (aka Clipboard Jesus), in combination with a fired-up defense and the loudest fanbase in the NFL, led our rather pitiful 7-9 team to a wildcard spot in the playoffs over the shellshocked St. Louis Rams.  Although it's great that we got the division title, here's two things to consider: 1) winning that game reduced our 7th round draft pick for next year to 21st at best; 2) Even if the Hawks can overcome New Orleans this Saturday (which is actually a possibility, given home field advantage, the aforementioned loudest fans in the NFL and a seriously injured New Orleans roster), it's doubtful.that the first team to clinch a division title with a 7-9 record can compete against the eastern division teams with their 12-4 stats and their serious-football-playing.  I hope the division title is worth it in the long run...
  • Got turned on to Pomplamoose, a duo from San Francisco.  You've seen them on the Hyundai commercials.  I've been seriously inspired to record again.  Thanks a lot, you talented cuties.
  • Took the kids to see Tron: Legacy.  Pros: decent follow-up to the early '80s classic, amazing visuals, good cast, amazing visuals, and amazing visuals.  Cons: major plot holes, jarring CG in the flashback scenes trying to "youthify" Jeff Bridges, major plot holes, cheesy Neo/Matrix finale... and did I mention the plot holes?
So that's pretty much how I spent my holidays.  If I have a resolution for 2011, it's to post a bit more often (and have interesting things to post about!).