The Marriage of a Nerd - Part V: I Now Pronounce You Nerd and Wife

You know, I had a lot more I thought I might write about the wedding. I had big plans. And then, we had a million errands to run and a million details to take care of and I didn't have any time to write in the blog, and suddenly, it was the Big Day.

Look, y'all, I'm not going to bore you with the complete run-down. I'm just going to say that we got everything we wanted and it was just about as close to perfect as anyone could possibly hope for. Everyone had a great time, especially us.

And I had the singular privilege of marrying THIS PERSON, which would have made the day perfect, no matter what.

I Steal the Movie Meme, Too!

Stolen from Todd and Erin.

Here are the rules I must follow:

* Pick 15 of my favorite movies.
* Go to IMDB and find a quote from each movie.
* Post them on el bloggo for everyone to guess.
* Fill in the film title once it’s been guessed.

These are the rules, people!

* Leave guesses in the comments.
* No Googling or using IMDB search functions. Don’t cheat, suckas!
*Know-it-alls, limit your guesses to three movies. Save some for others!

ETA: Y'all are smart, you got 'em all, even some of my most obscure choices! I listed just the first comment to be registered as the "winner," but many of you guessed many of them correctly! Nice work, movie lovers!

"Can you believe these new girls? None of them use birth control and they eat all the steak!" (Almost Famous - Monica)

"Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?" (O Brother Where Art Thou? - Average Jane)

"Most of the week we were Ozzie and Harriet, but every Saturday night we were finding something out: we were finding out more and more that we were not alone. It used to be that when I came home angry and depressed I'd just clean my condo, polish my Scandinavian furniture. I should have been looking for a new condo. I should have been haggling with my insurance company. I should have been upset about my nice, neat, flaming little shit. But I wasn't." (Fight Club - Leah)

"Remember when you were six? You and your brother snuck into an empty building through a basement window. You were going to play doctor. He showed you his but when it got to be your turn you chickened and ran, you remember that? You ever tell anybody that? Your mother, Tyrell, anybody? Remember the spider that lived outside your window? Orange body, green legs. Watched her build a web all summer then one day there's a big egg in it. The egg hatched..." (Blade Runner - Average Jane)

"I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job." (L.A. Confidential - QIR)

"I should get one of those signs that says 'One of these days I'm gonna get organezized'." (Taxi Driver - Tituba)

"What was I supposed to do - call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?" (The Sting - Simon)

"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." (Die Hard - Matt)

"We'd better get back, 'cause it'll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night... mostly." (Aliens - Average Jane)

"It was nothing like that, penis-breath!" (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial - Erin)

"Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? Oh, it looks good on you, though." (Caddyshack - Todd)

"By the way, it says 'balls' on your face." (Garden State - Monkey McWearingchaps)

"I'm telling you this for your own good, that's the worst fuckin' sweater I've ever seen, that's a Cosby sweater." (High Fidelity - Todd)

"You hit me. Look don't make me participate in your stupid crap if you don't like the way I do it. You make me get out of bed, you make me come over here. You make me make a phony phone call to Edward Rooney? The man could squash my nuts into oblivion. And-and-and then, and then, you deliberately hurt my feelings." (Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Erin)

"Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob." (Bull Durham - Matt)

The Marriage of a Nerd - Part IV: Artsy and Crafty

Last week, I was working with an old-fashioned printing press, with lead type and just a step beyond what Gutenberg was using five hundred years ago. I came home with my hands covered in sticky printers' ink. "That is going to wash off before the wedding, right?" Mle said, mostly joking, but with the tiniest twinge of real concern in her voice. I assured her that it would and, with the minor exception of a bit still clinging to the edges of the fingernails, it has. Now my hands are stained with paint.

It was inevitable, given the temperaments of both my Lovely Intended and myself that our wedding would have a strong DIY aesthetic. Thus far, Mle has folded a metric ass-ton of origami cranes, created a whole bunch of tissue paper pompoms, sewed four bridesmaids' dresses, constructed a beaded hair ornament for herself and probably a ton of other stuff that I'm forgetting besides.

I have, of course, created some pretty damn kick-ass invitations, created a website, designed table cards, escort cards and a program, constructed a custom cake topper, and have just finished painting some "how to get there" signs.

It's been a lot of fun for both of us to work on all these projects. I think the best part, ultimately, is that the wedding is really going to exude our personality. The wedding industry wants you to buy a whole bunch of crap for your wedding, have your names or initials and wedding date printed on all of it (at incredible cost), so that your "special day" will feel "individual," since it's your name on the mass produced crap you're using. Instead, we've created something that really is ours, unmistakably.

The Marriage of a Nerd - Part III: Almost Official and Ready to Get Drunk

Yesterday, we went down to the Sonoma County Clerk's office and acquired a marriage license. This means that we're thisclose to being Officially Married. All we have to do is rope some unsuspecting Impressive Clergyman into solemnizing our marriage (i.e., saying "Man and Wife" or the era-appropriate non-sexist equivalent thereof) and sending the paperwork back to the county office, and we're set to jet.

After taking care of that crucial little detail, we went to BevMo and fulfilled our remaining liquor-purchasing requirements. We now have (or will have) enough booze to satisfy Amy Winehouse for two whole days. For those keeping score at home, that's four cases of wine, six bottles of Proseco, a full keg of beer and a handle each of bourbon, rum and vodka. 104.75 liters of liquor.

I'll admit, it's way more beer than we need, and probably more booze than we'll actually need, too. But this is one case where it's definitely better to have too much than to have not enough.

The Marriage of a Nerd - Part II: Thumbs Down, Thums Up

So for the last week or so, we've been saying, "Well, we've got everything done that we can do here in Denver. Everything else has to wait until we get to California."

Now we're in California, so it's time to get everything else done.

Yesterday, we wanted to do some things that turned out to be impossible. Mle needed a few bits and pieces of new clothes, so we headed over to the Bay Street shopping center in Emeryville in order to go to H&M, only to discover that nearly every store in the place was closed for Easter.

Closed for Easter, for fuck's sake. That's just crazy, if you ask me. And it wasn't just Bay Street, either. Cross Dress for Less? Closed! Marshall's? Closed! Costco, where we wanted to stock up on groceries for our rented house? Closed! To quote Homer Simpson, "I don't even believe in Jeebus," and now because of Jeebus, we can't go shopping on a Sunday afternoon? Shenanigans, I tell you!

Things started looking up in the afternoon, though. The fine folks at Viks Chaat Corner, one of our must-stop-ins when in Berkeley, don't believe in Jeebus, either, so they were open for business and we were able to have a fine lunch of samosas (veggie for her, lamb for me) and Thums Up cola.

And then a fantastic dinner made by QIR and attended by A Girl and a Boy, with mojitos and turkey cutlets and wild rice and a delicious apple tart.

After dinner, it was a late-night drive to Sonoma County, where the weather is perhaps even more gorgeouser than it was in the East Bay yesterday, and where we've got a rather full plate of afternoon errands.

The Marriage of a Nerd - Part I: On The Road Again

Greetings, once again, from the East Bay, and t-minus ONE WEEK to the Wedding of the Century.

Made good time across Wyoming last night and wound up sleeping at an absurdly expensive Motel 6 in Evanston underneath the single ugliest bedspread in the history of the bedspread. While I don't expect a night at Motel 6 to still be $6, what's the deal with the Evanston joint charging $75 a night when every other M6 we passed by today was charging $40? Shenanigans, I tell you. Of course, we tried to stay at the legendary Little America, only to find that it was $100 for a standard room. Kitsch value in one's lodgings is well and good, but it's not worth a hunnert bones, I tell you. And then by the time we rolled into Evanston, we were too tired to search for anything cheaper than the absurdly expensive Motel 6.

Anyway, we rolled on across the Beehive State and the Silver State today, playing "I'm Thinking of Something..." (kind of a less-rule-dominated version of 20 Questions), snacking on delicious Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil Triscuits, reading to one another from our long-neglected read-aloud book, being flabbergasted at the price of gasoline, and on into Cali, only finally hitting the point of "Let Us Out of this FUCKING CAR" desperation at about the time we were passing by Sacramento.

And now we're hanging out at QIR's crib, marveling just a bit at the fact that in one week, we're totally going to be married and such.

The Power of Myth

On Monday, Randall Munroe presented one of his better efforts recently, seen here. I've caught "MythBusters" a few times, as it's in pretty heavy rotation on the Discovery Channel, which is the default setting for the TVs in the student lounges here at my school. It's a massively, massively entertaining show. Recently, Roger Ebert also reposted his "Questions That Won't Die" Movie Answer Man column. Each of these is making a similar statement about the odd and persistent power of urban myth.

It's one of my biggest pet peeves: the utter, unthinking credulity with which so many of us accept just about anything we hear. Add on that people's general unwillingness to change their beliefs, and you've got a heady brew of idiotic ideas contaminating the pool of General Knowledge.

Once, many years ago, my two former roommates and I were watching the Governor of California's classic action flick True Lies. During the Jamie Lee Curtis striptease scene, one of them made the usual "She's actually got a dick" comment. "Oh, that's not true," I scoffed. Both roommates held firmly to their belief that Jamie Lee Curtis is a she-male of some sort. Why? Well, because one roommate's brother's biology professor had said it was so. "She's never made any sort of comment one way or the other about it," I said. And that is indeed the case - maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but it's not at all a Known Fact. Try as I might to explain this, they stuck to their guns. I appealed to higher authority, checking out what Snopes had to say about it. The fine folks at Snopes, of course, reiterated essentially what I had been saying. They continued to stick resolutely to their guns, with the rationale, "Well, I believe what a college professor says over some internet site!" Admittedly, 9 times out of 10, that's a sound strategy, but when the professor was just repeating a long-standing, unsubstantiated rumor as fact, well, I guess that's the 10th time, isn't it? Seeing that there was no way of convincing them - and mind you, I wasn't even trying to convince them that they were wrong, just that they were not necessarily correct - I gave up and dropped the subject. These two are both quite intelligent people, college educated and generally quite rational. Even so, they were unwilling to accept a belief that they held as fact.

It's astounding, really, how little we question what we believe. Someone we find generally trustworthy tells us that you can see one of the Munchkins hanging himself in the background of a scene in The Wizard of Oz? Why, then, you can see one of the Munchkins hanging himself in the background of a scene in The Wizard of Oz, end of story. Never mind that even in a three-inch YouTube frame on a computer monitor, you can pretty easily tell that the "Hanging Munchkin" is just a bird - the urban myth is much more fun to believe, right?

Now That's a Speech!

Read it if you didn't hear or see Barack Obama's speech last night.

After eight long years, it sure would be nice if we got someone in the White House who didn't mangle the English language as a point of pride.

I love that it's not just the same old "underneath our skins, we're all the same" tropes. He's not saying "We're all the same," because we all know that's not true. It's a lovely, idealistic dream, but it's not true. He's saying, "I'm not going to get up here and tell you that race doesn't matter, because, well, of course it matters. It's part of who we are. But it doesn't matter enough to divide us when it comes to the real, meaningful issues that face us all."

I love that he continues to reject the knee-jerk jingoism that has come to substitute for genuine love of country in American political discourse over these last six-and-a-half years:

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

See what he's doing there? He's not just saying, "Oh, well, if I had known that Reverend Wright was such a wacko, I would have left that church years ago" like so many politicians would do. Instead, he's reminding us of the single greatest aspect of living in a free society - that you're free to disagree with anything anyone says, and it doesn't mean you don't still like and respect that person. And that criticizing our government is not just the right but perhaps even the duty of every American. And yet he still repudiates Wright's remarks. Doing all this at once is deft and brilliant, something Dubya and a million speech writers could never pull off.

This is why I continue to write about Obama and his campaign. Because he does that. For all the garbage anyone can spew about his supposed lack of substance, the fact remains, he addresses hard truths. He doesn't shy away from the complexity of issues in favor of flashy production, easy soundbites and Orwellian double-speak. And through it all, he appeals to our better nature.

That's where the crux of this primary campaign lies, I think, and it's why Obama is likely to ultimately be the nominee. The old trope is, "vote your hopes, not your fears." Well, Hillary has been playing to our fears, as the now-infamous "3 a.m." commercial amply demonstrates. Obama, in the meantime, reminds us of something a lot of people forgot over these last few years. He reminds us that we're better than what we've been. We're better than Iraq. We're better than Abu Ghraib and water-boarding and extreme rendition. We're better than the aftermath of Katrina. We're better than all of that. We're capable of being a better country than Dubya has wanted us to be.

I'm not saying that Obama can't/won't/hasn't/shouldn't "go negative." But he continues to show himself to have a broader perspective than his current opponent, or his presumptive next opponent. And after the last presidential campaign, in which Kerry did little more than try to terrify us of four more years of Bush and Bush did nothing but try to terrify us of a country with anyone other than His Royal Christian Majesty in charge, someone who really does give us a chance to vote our hopes rather than our fears means an awful lot.


I was a little dubious about Cars from the very first teaser...and while it was certainly the weakest Pixar film since A Bug's Life, it was not bad. I was a little dubious about Ratatouille when I saw the teasers, too, and that one turned out to be great.

But their newest, WALL-E...well, take a look at the trailer. It looks AWESOME.


Mark Evanier is reporting that artist Dave Stevens has died of leukemia at the age of 52.

When I was a kid, my favorite comics store was Haley's Comics in Ft. Collins (which was still in business last time I was up there, on Walnut St. just off of Old Town Square). There were plenty of things to drool over (not literally, of course) in the store - not least of which was a glass display case full of the early issues of pretty much every Silver Age Marvel title. I don't doubt that John, the owner, had bought them brand-new from the newsstand. He had a complete collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures on display - this being the early days, before the TMNT became over-exposed and over-merchandised. And there was this poster that always caught my eye.

It depicted a guy wearing a leather jacket and a jet-pack, struggling in the clutches of a gigantic monster, so huge that the hand clutching the heroic figure was the only part of the monster you could see. I had no idea who this character was, and it never particularly occurred to me to ask. But I always liked that poster.

In the summer of 1991, Disney released The Rocketeer, and I discovered who the character on that poster was. It was a pretty clear attempt to create a superhero franchise riding on the coattails of Tim Burton's hugely popular Batman film from a couple of years before. It also had a bit of that nostalgic-for-the-old-movie-serials, let's-punch-some-Nazis, Indiana-Jones-ripoff mojo going, too, of course. So, yeah...a movie that combined superheroes with Indiana Jones-style adventure? It should go without saying that I absolutely loved it.

Sadly, I was one of the few. It was a flop, and Disney's expected franchise never took off (no pun intended). Too bad, but the bright side was that the comics stores were stocking the collection of Dave Stevens' original "Rocketeer" strips that summer, whose previous shelf-life had been before my time.

So beautiful! Dave Stevens earned himself a reputation as an incredibly slow artist when it came to comics work, but you can see why. Every single panel is a masterpiece. He's also got a reputation as a cheesecake/pin-up artist, and there's a reason for that, too. The dude could draw women like nobody's business. But he also had a knack for action scenes.

And, well, let's talk design. The Rocketeer isn't exactly a superhero, so it's not exactly a superhero costume. But that jacket is just about the coolest jacket ever. And the helmet - well, the helmet owes a little something to a jetpack-wearing serial character called Commando Cody, but where Cody's helmet is pretty much just a bucket with a few holes cut in it, the Rocketeer's headpiece has style in spades. I mean...well, look at it:

I mean, that thing is just way cool. Some designer at Hasbro certainly thought so, too, and totally ripped off the design for a G.I. Joe character.

Also, "Bitch is the New Black" Is the Dumbest. Line. EVER!

You know what I'm sick and tired of?

This tired, tired, idiotic line and its variations:

I also don’t buy into the whole “hope is here, and I’ll bring change, yup, I’ll do it, but I’m not telling you how yet, you’ll just have to wait and see” approach. Telling me you’re going to change things and giving me very little to go on to trust you, like any other politician, to do just that and change things for the better is worthless. I need the straight facts and not a sugarcoated feel-good version. I think it’s nice and all that Obama is a wonderful, inspirational speaker, but that’s not enough for me to get his vote. He has plenty of explaining to do on his end for his policies.

(Excerpt from a post by commenter SMD at John Scalzi's blog)

I'm hearing it everywhere these days. You've read it on dozens of blogs and message boards by now, you've heard people saying it in conversation, right? Yeah, the "Obama is the Chosen One Who Will Lead Us To Paradise" meme is getting old. But on the other hand, you just can't claim he's not a candidate with substance. Yeah, he talks about "change" and "hope" and such a lot without getting into policy-wonk shit in his stump speeches. So did Bill Clinton. So did Ronald Reagan. It's just good politico-speak. You know who did give speeches filled with policy-wonkery? Al Gore and John Kerry, and look how well that worked out. I mean, I'm a sucker for a good policy wonk as much as the next lefty intellectual - but that shit just doesn't play to the masses, y'know?

And here's the real thing: it takes all of thirty seconds and a few clicks, and you've got all the substantive platform issues you could possibly want from Barack Obama. Just go to, pick whatever your pet cause is from the "Issues" dropdown menu, and you're soaking in it.

Barack Obama on energy policy:

Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Obama's cap-and-trade system will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100 percent auction ensures that all polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away to coal and oil companies. Some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to support the development of clean energy, to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and to address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition.

Barack Obama on foreign policy:

The United States is trapped by the Bush-Cheney approach to diplomacy that refuses to talk to leaders we don't like. Not talking doesn't make us look tough – it makes us look arrogant, it denies us opportunities to make progress, and it makes it harder for America to rally international support for our leadership. On challenges ranging from terrorism to disease, nuclear weapons to climate change, we cannot make progress unless we can draw on strong international support.

Barack Obama on health care:

The Obama plan will create a National Health Insurance Exchange to help individuals who wish to purchase a private insurance plan. The Exchange will act as a watchdog group and help reform the private insurance market by creating rules and standards for participating insurance plans to ensure fairness and to make individual coverage more affordable and accessible. Insurers would have to issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums that will not depend upon health status. The Exchange will require that all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and have the same standards for quality and efficiency. The Exchange would evaluate plans and make the differences among the plans, including cost of services, public.

Barack Obama on Social Security:

Obama is committed to ensuring Social Security is solvent and viable for the American people, now and in the future. Obama will be honest with the American people about the long-term solvency of Social Security and the ways we can address the shortfall. Obama will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike. And he does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age. Obama is strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security.

Obama believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax applies to only the first $97,500 a worker makes. Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security and he will work with Congress and the American people to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security solvent for at least the next half century.

I think you get the idea. Look, I don't care if you agree with his ideas or not. That's not the point. You may disagree with every single position he holds, you may think he's not the right man for the job, you may think that Hillary is the right man for the job, you may want Hillary to be the one to answer the Batphone when Commissioner Gordon calls at 3 a.m., doesn't matter in the least. The point is that claiming that Obama lacks substance is pure, utter bullshit. His positions on every major issue that confronts the United States of America are right there, easy to find for anyone interested in them.

No Capes!

Here's an interesting piece by Michael Chabon in the New Yorker, ruminating on the nature and purpose of superhero costumes. And, as Saggypants Spidey here ably demonstrates, in real life, superhero costumes are beyond impractical. They're ludicrous, absurd, and the idea that anyone - possessed of abilities far beyond those of mortal men or not - would venture forth to fight evil wearing such a thing is simply ridiculous. There's a reason why Bryan Singer put his X-Men in black leather (complete with sarcastic, "What would you prefer? Yellow spandex?" joke) and why Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan both put Batman in hi-tech body armor and Joel Shumacher put him in rubber fetishwear. As Chabon points out, Adam West looked every inch the campy joke he was supposed to be in a fairly close approximation of Batman's actual comics costume. And, as both The Incredibles' Edna Mode and Watchmen's Nite Owl pointedly observe, capes, the classic symbol of the superhero costume, are just entirely impractical.

And yet, for all that, superhero costumes are such great fun, and such a part of the superhero experience, that you never really think about how absurd and impractical they are outside of parodies and deconstructionist stuff like the aforementioned The Incredibles and Watchmen. Nolan's Batman Begins gave the Caped Crusader a semi-practical reason to wear his cape - as you might recall, it serves him as a kind of glider as he leaps across the rooftops of Gotham City - but above all, Batman just wouldn't look right without his cape. It became kind of a "thing" for John Byrne and his successors on the Superman books in the late '80s and early '90s to have Superman's cape be blown off in explosions and destroyed in fights - and it was always a little jarring in such scenes to see Superman without his cape.

Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Black Canary and a host of others engage in their various feats of derring-do shod in high-heeled boots, often depicted as four- or five-inch stilettos. Even as a kid, that struck me as odd and made me think of those cheesy Easy Spirit shoe commercials from the '80s that showed women playing basketball in heels. In every horror or action movie ever made that features a foot chase, The Girl slows her escape from the Villain because she has to pause to remove her high-heeled shoes - and yet Wonder Woman is out there kicking ass in the kind of boots I've only ever seen in real life for sale at stores catering to strippers and drag queens on Hollywood Boulevard and Haight Street.

And speaking of footwear, years of tradition dictate that, of course, Clark Kent is always wearing his Superman outfit underneath his mild-mannered everyday clothes. I've always wondered - what does he do with the boots? Take a look at Brandon Routh's boots from Superman Returns. Those are some pretty hefty boots! You're not exactly going to slip a pair of Florsheim wingtips on over those things. You're not going to fold them up and slip them in your pocket. So maybe nobody ever notices that Clark Kent is wearing bright red boots with his off-the-rack JC Penney suits when he goes to work at the Daily Planet.

There's a great scene in Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's criminally-underrated "Justice League: Year One" miniseries where, after a fight, the Flash lectures Black Canary on the impracticality of her high-heeled boots. "Not a very practical feature for a battle suit," says Flash. "You don't say," replies Canary, grabbing hold of one of his head-wing earpieces and giving it a twist. The final panel, a reaction shot of the Flash with his entire cowl twisted around in front of his face, is absolutely priceless.

So many absurdities - and yet no one ever questions or even really thinks about them. They fall into that, "Well, let's just accept it and move on" category alongside Clark Kent's glasses-as-impenetrable-disguise. It's all part of the appeal.

Of Gygax

As an avowed Great Big Nerd, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of Gary Gygax, widely credited as the creator of Dungeons & Dragons. A lot of the nerd bloggers out there are writing about their early experiences with D&D or gaming in general. Been there, done that, myself.

Here's some wise words from the always-entertaining Christopher Bird on the matter:

And that was how I got into another D&D campaign, and made friends when I really needed them. And the important thing to understand is that my experience is the furthest thing from unique. What Gary Gygax - along with the other patron saints of nerddom, your Roddenberrys and Lucases and Stans-and-Jacks - did was to give the nerds and burnouts and outcasts their very own lingua franca, their own culture. Even though the paper RPG market is diminishing with every year, a market of late-thirtysomethings not replacing themselves with younger players, it lives on in a thousand thousand iterations: World of Warcraft is just the most obvious, but they’re everywhere.

And it's true. There's nothing greater for an adolescent outcast than to discover a place where he (or she) belongs, a group of like minds. And, as Mr. Bird astutely observes, that person need not be the classic nerd archetype. It's really not hard to believe it when Daniel DeSario joins the Geeks for an evening of gaming and actually finds that he's enjoying himself.

The appeal goes beyond the obvious, too. I mean, the appeal to the young nerd of entering a world where he is a warrior or a wizard, someone who wields power in some way, is obvious. But - as Paul La Farge observes and Wil Wheaton adeptly illustrates - there's something else going on there, too. It's the appeal not just of the power fantasy, but also of the collaborative environment. To a lot of kids for whom P.E. was pure torture, the world can really seem like a contest that's somehow rigged against them. You suck at dodgeball, someone else always beats you out for the attentions of the girl you like, you always feel like you're losing at some kind of competition that you didn't sign up for. The let's-be-friends, collaborative environment of D&D, where everybody's fighting the same monsters and working together to explore the dungeon and splitting up the treasure evenly, was the perfect antidote. This was especially true in the early days of D&D, when video games were in their infancy, continuing on through to my era in the late '80s and early '90s, when 2-player NES was as collaborative as video games got.

Today, of course, that function has been largely usurped by the ability to play Halo online and especially the various MMORPGs. But I think there's some truth to the idea that D&D helped to shape all of those things.

So anyway...thanks for your part in a lot of good times over the years, Gary. We're getting the gold together and heading for the local cleric to see about having you raised at the earliest opportunity.

Hey Mr. Driver Man, Don't Be Slow

Okay, so that was the briefest hiatus of indeterminate length ever...or, as Beck would say, "That was a good drum break!" Hope y'all didn't drop me from your feed readers and such. I was feeling moody yesterday and, don't want the gory details, but the upshot is that I'm going to continue updating sporadically as usual.


I imagine every major city probably has That Bus. You know the one - well, if you ever take transit, you do, anyway. In Denver, it's the #15. It runs up and down East Colfax Avenue, and because Colfax is That Street, the 15 is That Bus. You never know what you'll see or who you'll meet when you get on board the 15.

The 15 also happens to be the bus that takes me to school. So yesterday morning, just like every weekday morning, I got on board the 15, and just like every morning, there were no seats. Except one.

The guy sitting on one of the sideways-facing bench seats right near the front says, "Hey, you can sit here, Bro."

"Thanks," I say, taking the offered seat.

"Those are nice pens, I like that kind," he says. It takes me a moment to figure out what he's talking about. When I was standing in front of him, he'd seen the two Pilot G-2 Mini rollerball pens sticking out of my left hip pocket. Yeah, I'm a nerd and I keep pens in my pocket - imagine that.

Ordinarily, I wear headphones on the bus. For every random guy who wants to make polite conversation about pens, there are three or four more who are drunk at 8:00 in the morning or high or insane or some lucky combo platter of all three and yell incoherently in your face. The headphones are a wonderfully convenient signal of, "Go spread your crazy someplace else, Weird Old Homeless Guy." Today, though, my iPod battery is dead, so no headphones.

"Yeah," I say, "I really like these ones." He launches into a long explanation of just how and why the Pilot G-2 is such a great pen, easy to write with, strong, clear line, rubber grip for comfort...can't beat it.

"I could use a pen," he concludes, "I have to fill out a bunch of paperwork today, and I forgot to bring a pen."

"Here,' I reply, handing over one of the pens from my pocket, "why don't you take this one?"

He smiles, says thanks, and pulls a book out of his bag. He uses my his pen to sign his name on the book's title page and hands the book to me. "You ever read this?" he says. At a glance, it appears to be a book full of Christian testimony from prison inmates.

"Nope," I say.

"It's a great book, changed my life," he says. "You should read it!" His body language makes it obvious that he doesn't expect me to give the book back to him. Perhaps he thinks we've just made a transaction - a pen for a book, fair and square. Perhaps he carries around stacks and stacks of Maximum Saints: Make No Little Plans by the Rev. Yong Hui V. McDonald, and presses a copy on everyone he sits with on the bus. Anyway, I nod politely, not quite sure what to do, and leaf through the book.

He explains how he's headed down to some government office or other in order to straighten out an error in some sort of Social Security payment. He's been evicted from his apartment and needs the money in order to secure a warm and dry place to sleep, and get cleaned up so he can find a job. He'd slept the previous night sleeping outdoors. Unlike so many people who offer such stories on the bus, he doesn't seem to be angling for money at all. He's just making conversation.

And to think, I'd left the house grumbling and in a foul mood because I'd had trouble with my new contact lenses that morning.

He gets off the bus at Colfax & Broadway. I wish him luck. He says thanks again for the pen, tells me to read that book, and says, "If I see you on the bus again, maybe I'll have a pen for you!" Over the rest of the ride to school, my mood improves dramatically.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to give your perspective a much-needed adjustment. Sometimes the karmic payoff for something as simple as giving away a pen, one of a dozen or so just like it that I have, is bigger than you might expect.

Adios, Amigos

We go now from very sporadic updates to an officially announced hiatus of indefinite length. See you in the funny pages, y'all.