Category Archives: Nerdery

Nerd News and Nonsense!

Mandom Fan Dumb

After the release of the Rogue One: A Star Wars trailer last week, I posted on Facebook five IMDB message board thread titles that I felt really showed the best/worst reaction.

herdumb1

The fanboys aren’t happy.

Later in the day, I had a talk with a gay Asian coworker about the reason behind the backlash. He didn’t get it.  That’s when I realized what it might be.   He’s had a lifetime of not seeing himself onscreen in genre films.   Most fanboys haven’t.

Straight, white males are used to seeing themselves represented in nerd culture. From Ant-Man to Zartan, comic books and sci-fi are riddled with straight, white male characters.   I grew up in a pretty white suburb.  When we played Star Wars on the playground, everyone wanted to be Han Solo or Luke Skywalker.  No one was calling dibs on being Princess Leia or Lando Calrissian.

If a movie hero isn’t a white male, for the longest time, that movie was a mainstream flop. Granted, Steel and Blankman are arguably terrible movies.  But Spawn were decent enough.  And Hancock was actually good.  The Crow was a cult hit and maybe that’s because Brandon Lee was only half Asian.

To the best of my memory, Val Kilmer in 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the first time I even remember seeing a gay action hero on screen.Pitfall!_Coverart

It’s been said that video games are the future of entertainment. They don’t have a much better track record, although I always liked to believe that Pitfall Harry was a nickname for Pitfall Harriet, and she was running across the jungle, not in an exercise of futility, but for Civil Rights.

Video games, for the most part, have straight, white male protagonists, unless it’s a game where you can create your own character. When those games offer a possibility where your male avatar can romance another man or your female avatar can romance another woman, it becomes a newsworthy and there’s backlash.

I’ve got news for the conservative parents who insist that Mass Effect made their son, playing a male Shepard, romance that hot male soldier. The game was impartial.  Your son banged that dude because your son wanted to bang that dude.  And believe me, he had to really work for it, just like I had to work to have my female Shepard bed down with Liara, the blue alien lady.

ShepKaidan1

I like this new era of seeing diversity in our heroes. Any time I’ve played a video game where I could create my own character, I’d create a badass lady hero.  And it’s not that I’m such an emotionally advanced and progressive dude.  It’s just that if I’m going to stare at the back of someone running for 100 hours of game play, I want them to have a pretty butt.  And that’s the same as my coworker who said that any time he can create his own character, he’d create a super hot guy.

The backlash with female heroes seems to be a pretty American thing. Luc Besson almost exclusively heads up his films with strong ladies.  Mad Max: Fury Road is a technically an Australian film.  And even more so, should have been titled Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road.   American genre films, especially Star Wars seems to be the core of sexism and racism in nerd culture.

Was Mad Max any more groundbreaking than Star Wars: The Force Unleashed? Both movies are female lead requels of existing franchises with full realized worlds and cutting edge special effects.  Star Wars was woefully snubbed at the Oscars. How many black people are in the entire Mad Max franchise?  One.  Tina Turner.  Star Wars has Finn in a starring role and I really hope that it’s dropped casually and matter of factly that Poe is gay.  Star Wars also has a much deeper plot then, let’s drive towards the left side of the screen for an hour, then turn around and drive to the right side.

Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens-Empire-cover

The Force Awakens was dismissed by many as being a retread of A New Hope. I couldn’t disagree more.  They’re similar only in that both stories are about people discovering their calling.  Isn’t that kind of the case of all origin stories?  A New Hope is basically just Luke’s story to blow up the Death Star.  The Force Awakens is mostly about the quest to find Luke Skywalker.  It isn’t just about Rey’s journey from survivor to hero.  It’s about Finn going against his literal programming to be a hero.  It’s about parents trying to fix their part in not being their for their son.  It’s a much deeper film than Mad Max and A New Hope.

One of my biggest hopes was that if I ever had a daughter, I’d have a son first, so he could be the protective big brother. But in this age, especially in this Star Wars age, of having role models like Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones and hopefully a better used Gwendoline Christie, I realize I don’t have to revert to ancient beliefs and hokey old fashioned thinking.  If I ever have a daughter, she’ll get to live in a new era of Disney Princesses who don’t need rescuing.  She’ll get to live in an era where Disney Princesses wield lightsabers and steal Death Star plans.

Advertisements

Guess the Pedestrian

I spend a lot of time driving for work, and as anyone who does knows, you need to do something to alleviate the boredom of the road. That’s why I came up with the game Guess the Pedestrian.

It’s a simple game, and you can play it alone or with friends.

In my experience, unless you live downtown in a big city, there are only a few kinds of pedestrians out and about:

  1. People too poor to afford a car
  2. People with DUI’s
  3. Kids

People exercising don’t count as pedestrians – they’re doing something else all together.

The fun is trying to guess which type each pedestrian you see is. The girl in a Sepultura T-shirt and pajama pants pushing a baby stroller and smoking a cigarette? No car. The 40-something guy carrying a 12-pack and a bag of groceries down the street? DUI. Keep tabs on how many of each you see, or with a buddy, each pick a type, and see who gets to 10 first. It’s fun for everyone! Except, of course, those poor pedestrians.

My New Favorite Podcast: Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca

I have started listening to an excellent new podcast over the past few weeks. Listeners of Comedy Bang Bang will recognize the character Bob Ducca from his frequent appearances on that podcast. Affirmation Nation with Bob Ducca has turned what I thought might have been a one-note character into a 5-day-a-week 3-5 minute dose of awesome.  Seth Morris (the man behind Bob Ducca) is a comedy genius as far as I’m concerned.

Every weekday, Bob shares a story, gives us a health tip, responds to listener e-mails, or reviews a health product on the show. Every episode is funny, often in an unexpected way, like when Bob started recording an episode and got kicked out of the recording studio by the person who had booked it, or when his guided meditation turned into 2 minutes of the sounds of him removing all of his medical devices before he could begin.

I laugh out loud at this podcast more often than I do with any of the other comedy podcasts I listen to.

If you’re not listening to Affirmation Nation, check it out on iTunes or at Earwolf.com.

George Washington!

My brothers showed me this video, and I thought it was great.  As far as I know, it is historically accurate.

D&D Comedy: Comic Character Concepts

In a mystical WORLD of beauty, four brave HEROES shall awesomely assemble and use their AMAZING gifts to save ALL from the forces of DARKNESS! In other words, me and four comics will be playing Dungeons and Dragons in a few weeks. Being the Black dungeon master, I’ll be playing the evil darkness of course.

It’s a role I’m used to since I’ve run table top role-playing games (RPGs) for nearly twenty years. If any sentence was meant to express the feeling of shameful pride, it would be the one before this one.

Role-playing games for you frequent sex-havers and comedy fans is when players take on the role of a hero in an improvised play where success and failure are determined by rolling dice and strategy. Its World of Warcraft and other online games minus the computer graphics but played with pencil, paper, math and ACTUAL social skills.

Despite deprecation, I’m excited to combine my two passions and pleased with the players I’ll have. Comedians are of course creative people and most of the fun we’ll have, and eventually share with you readers, will come from collaborating on the story. Unlike most improv troupes however, our tale will likely be funny.

The group will include local laughinator Jeff Scheen, comic podcaster and fellow contributor Jeff Conolly, enthusiastic gamer/entertainer Erik Kitter and our very own head-geek-in-charge headliner Mike Bobbitt (his link would take you here, why bother).

The kind of character player’s create is very close to their own personality. I haven’t known these guys for long, but watching their acts is a window into their souls, so I’m already starting to imagine what kind of heroes or medieval miscreants they’ll make.

Scheen is a very imaginative performer whom uses improv skill to organically build his bits. He would make a decent Bard – a jack of all trades traveling adventurer skilled in musical magic and martial prowess. If his dreams of comedy success ever completely fail with no chance of resurrection, he’d run good games as a homeless man with his imaginary friends.

Conolly is a very smart comic with a laid back presentation and also a veteran gamer. I can easily see him as leader type like a Cleric – think Gandalf from Lord of the Rings with much BALLSIER powers.  With his experience in older more complicated versions of D&D, he’ll be very helpful in advising those players new to the game. My evil forces will try to kill him first.

I haven’t hung out with Erik a lot, but he seems excited. He would make a good Rogue – a sneaky thief-like adventurer. I say this cause I can’t even remember his act -now  that’s STEALTH!

Mike has a very aggressive style on stage and has impressed upon me the importance of confidence. He isn’t that versed with D&D so a simple character class would benefit him the most. I think he’ll enjoy the directness of a good old fashioned fighter, effectively treating every monster in the way as Khal Drogo would treat a heckler.

Conolly, host of the Nerd Comic Rising podcast, will be recording the session so you’ll be able to hear how things pan out.

Anybody got any comedy/fantasy/history concepts or scenes I should have ready for them?

Shut Up, Internet! #5

This is the fifth in a series of posts on internet trends or memes I think are just plain stupid. Please be advised that my opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Mike Bobbitt, Off the Mike, any other contributors, Stephen Hawking, the United States Navy, M&M Mars, the Newsboy Legion, my mother, my dog, or my wife.

Taking Comedians Seriously on Twitter

Twitter is a lot of fun, and I really enjoy following my favorite comedians on there. The problem I have lately is the deluge of stupidity coming from other Twitter users. Not a day goes by that one of the comedians I follow doesn’t  retweet an idiotic answer to a rhetorical question, someone accusing them of being dumb or offensive because of a joke they made, or explaining something to them like they’re a child because the feigned ignorance for humor.

You are reading posts made by comedians. They are usually trying to be funny. Let’s all just take that for granted. It’s usually pretty obvious when they are being serious, otherwise it’s safe to assume anything they say is for humor. If you’re following your senator, by all means, take him or her seriously all the time and tweet your outrage to them. If a comedian offends you or says something you don’t like, unfollow them, but don’t send them a message about it. They’re just going to retweet it to show the rest of us how stupid you are. Yes, we will all look down on you from our lofty comedy nerd towers.

Why do idiots try to ruin everything for us?

Shark Week 2011!

As some of you may know, I like sharks.  In fact, scratch that, I freaking LOVE sharks.  I have ever since I saw Jaws as a kid, which I realize is strange and unusual, but I’m a strange and unusual person, so deal with it, folks.

Shark Week, which if you’re not familiar, is a week in which the Discovery Channel blocks off it’s prime time programming for programming that consists of hour long documentaries specifically about Sharks.  This year, the running theme of Shark Week seemed to be about shark attacks: survivor stories, unusual amounts of shark attacks in one area, shark attacks throughout history, shark attacks, shark attacks, and more shark attacks.

Read the rest of this entry

Reality Show Rundown 2: Storage Boogaloo

As I have stated in a previous post, I am totally into reality shows about real people doing their jobs. This summer I have become a bit obsessed with them. The latest two my wife and I are watching revolve around the people who attend storage unit auctions. When storage unit renters default and stop paying their monthly fees, the owners of the facilities will put the contents up for auction to try and recoup their losses. These two shows follow the auctions, auctioneers and the regular buyers of said units.

Storage Hunters

This show mainly follows a couple of jerks and the other jerks they run into. The couple the show revolves around, Brandon and Lori Bernier,  don’t shut up about how much research they do about who owned the units they are bidding on, and constantly get into bickering fights with the other regular bidder on the show. Seriously, check out the hair cut on the lady. What the shit? We watch it to hate them and root for them to overpay for garbage. It gives me great joy every time the open a box to find out it’s empty.  We watch this show if we stumble on to it, but don’t much care if we miss it.

Find Storage Hunters on Tru TV: http://www.trutv.com/shows/storage-hunters/index.html

Storage Wars

Storage wars is a much more entertaining show, which follows a whole cast of characters as they try to outbid each other for storage units all over California. The cast includes Jarrod “The Young Gun” and his wife Brandi, a couple who run a resale shop, and are always trying to one-up each other, Barry “The Collector,” an older hipster who is out looking for valuable collectibles, Dave “The Mogul,”, the owner of a larger consignment business, and Darrell “The Gambler,” a home-based buyer and seller looking for his next big score. The bickering and posturing between the different buyers is the fun on this show, as they each try to outdo the others. There is no real villain on this one, each buyer is likable in their own way, and easy to root for or against. This show has a season pass on my DVR.

Catch Storage Wars on A&E: http://www.aetv.com/storage-wars/

Shut Up, Internet! #4

This is the fourth in a series of posts on internet trends or memes I think are just plain stupid. Please be advised that my opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Mike Bobbitt, Off the Mike, any other contributors, the Catholic Church, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the rock band KISS, Batman, my mother, or my wife.

 

Nyan Cat

Seriously, internet, what the fuck?

Joke Anatomy: The Scent of a Vampire

As a new comic, I continue to consider how to put my personality into my humor so others can understand me. I think this is a continuing art practiced by all performers, but I don’t have a big (or even small) audience that follows me. I’ll get lucky to get a nerd or two near my level of geek.

I’ve been working on a deodorant bit that of course skews a bit obscure, because this is the type of knowledge that nerd’s love and that binds us in fellowship like the One Ring.  If you didn’t get that reference, you understand my issue and are a hermit or should be shunned like one. Let’s dissect this literally (not with a scalpel … but … yeah):

Premise: Know what’s ANNOYING? The LIES commercials use to sell CRAP.

A true observation made with a hostile attitude (power words in bold) that most would agree with. The question posed engages the audience’s curiosity. Crap can be interchanged with shit, which is better for the second S word after sell. So far, so standard.

Axe Body Spray doesn’t drive women crazy. That LIE just drives douche bags to buy Axe

This is joke number one of the bit. I consider this a chuckle-worthy appetizer punch line. It may insult Axe-wearing douches in the audience, but they’ll feel better by the end of this. Showing the nerd flag makes the average person feel superior, and it’s about to get geeky.

I like the Axe knock-off BLADE. It’s cheap. It works.It SLAUGHTERS VAMPIRES!

Blade Fan Fiction

Surprise exaggerated connection between the deodorant Blade and the Black half-vampire vampire hunter comic book character played by Wesley Snipes in movie of the late 90’s early 2000s. This get’s a strong to moderate guy laugh but loses most girls. Those ladies that do laugh, I make note of for after the show.

It keeps your armpits from BURNING in sunlight

Tag based on one of Blades special vampire powers that gets a smaller laugh bump. Geek laughter guaranteed though. This is where the laughs begin to die off if I continue connecting to the character. So, I go meta.

Blade does NOT drive women crazy … (beat) … but it DOES give them JUNGLE FEVER.

Another surprise exaggeration connection but to the actor this time. Comic geekery to movie nerdery.  Snipes starred in the controversial Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever 20 years ago where his character gets in an interracial relationship.

Obscure for many audiences, but I LOVE it so much! The Jungle fever idea ties in so well with the Axe fantasy of women going sexually crazy. That I’m a Black comic makes it work on another level. A decent amount of Black people will get it, so maybe this version should go in the arsenal for that audience.

For the mainstream, I may as well keep referring to the Blade character with his $2 billion movie franchise.

Blade does NOT drive women crazy … but it drives the undead BACK to HELL … where they BELONG!

“Where they belong” needs to be strongly emphasized to push the implied opinion that vampires or undead should exist, which is ridiculous but absurdly follows the bit’s attitude.

This is where the bit concludes right now. I’ll audience test the revisions later this week, but you can give me a preview. Comic readers (comic book lovers or comedians that read) let me know your comments and suggestions.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows : A Muggle’s Review

I’m not a fanboy of the Harry Potter persuasion because I’m not a young adult that grew up with the books, a female fantasy fan nor a poser trying to lure a fangirl out of her Hogwart’s uniform. I am a certified fantasy nerd and will not reveal any spoilers for those that are too cool to read the novels, but Harry wins in the end as you should expect. Read a book.

I’ve read none of the books, but I have seen all the Potter movies to see what the fuss was about. Overall, they were decent but not moving. Owing to being a series for kids, I forgave them for not having balls – which for most of the characters hadn’t dropped yet. All the while, I’m waiting for Harry to come into his own and stop being a Harry Sue character – constantly protected from heroic sacrifice by magical creatures, competent adults and ugly red-headed sidekicks written as less important.

Run, Ron! RUN!

I watched Deathly Hallows part two directly after watching part one, I’m a vet of the Lord of the Rings Extended version – yes, my life is that empty.

Part one established a dark high stakes tone in the beginning with so many supporting characters deaths, then it winds down to a magical hide and seek scavenger hunt around the world with Hermione doing research. The cutaways to show the effects of the Death Eater take over where good, but too far in between. It has a slightly more dreadful feel than when the Republicans took the House.

Finally, there’s some magical intervention that gets things moving when they can finally start destroying horcruxes (horcruxi? whores’ crotches? Is that where Bellatrix was hiding them? That’s Lastrange.)

We learn what the Deathly Hollows are, but not why they aren’t the “Deadly Hallows”. These are English speakers, right? The story arch peaks with the death of the cutest character to date, more sadness then a tonal shift to “AW SHITTLEBERRIES! Now, it’s personal!”

Yeah ... c'mon ... *wimper*

Part 2 had the much more quicker pace that a finale should. Action, tension, action, tension – you know, like a movie. Voldemort is made gradually weaker with each destroyed horcrux with the backdrop being a magical war I’ve been much anticipating. Harry and Snapes’ relationship is fully revealed, which satisfyingly transforms our view of the headmaster. Our “hero” fated to save everyone is going to actually have to take one for the team, team being the world – about time.

Potter goes forth to die and is merely knocked out by a loophole in wand etiquette. This bothered me. Voldemort’s entire goal is to kill Harry, yet he doesn’t check the apparent body himself? He could feel whenever a horcrux was destroyed, but not this most important one in the series? That’s as dumb as a Jedi Chosen One taking a Sith Lord at his word.

Dumbledore’s ghost tells Potter he can stay in Heaven’s subway or go back and make sure all those deaths for his sake were’nt in vain. What kind of asshole would stay, especially when there’s a Weasley wet for him?

Harry survives. Neville Longbottom comes through amazingly, then Potter shows Voldemort how to kill an enemy.  Flash forward: Harry knocks up Ginny and Ron does the same to Hermione, kids go to Hogwarts, the Circle of Life plays in your heart and the end.

A Real Hero

So, again, somebody else makes it possible for Harry to  succeed. Neville fills his shoes to destroy the last horcrux with Hermione and Ron serving their usual role as bait. As soon as Voldemort is mortal, it’s a done deal? Wasn’t he a badass before all this?  There’s a likely stated reason for this that I missed in previous exposition, the point is I didn’t find Harry’s victory all the heroic, but I guess its par for the course.

These are a good pair of movies, and I’m sure emotional investment in the series will make it awesome, but for me it was worth the price of admission: $5 bootleg.

Dennis’s Guide to Public Restrooms

When you’re on the road all day it’s inevitable – it’s going to come up. You’re going to need to use a public restroom. Quite possibly for #2*. I have spent the last several years at a job that requires me to drive all over Michigan and Ohio, and I have spent plenty of time in public bathrooms. So I give to you Dennis’s guide to public restrooms!

Are you a public restroom novice? Don’t know which ones to use and which to avoid? There is an easy rule of thumb. When stopping for a much-needed potty break, refer to this scale:

#1. – Retail stores – usually the cleanest – most major retailers have a policy about cleaning them at least daily, and the employees themselves have to use them.

#2. – Restaurants – Usually pretty gross. With the constant flow of people in and out, the staff is too busy to keep them clean. Especially at fast food places, those are the worst. Try to avoid.

#3.  – Gas Stations – Almost always Gross. I have seen things in gas station bathrooms that would horrify some.

#4.  – Rest Stops – Last resort. Gross, rarely cleaned, and if rumors are to be believed, havens for illicit behavior (dirty sex stuff).

Retail bathrooms are the best, but some are better than others. My top 4 by chain:

#4. – K-mart – Not terrible, it’ll do in a pinch. The toilet paper at K-mart is pretty weak, though.

#3. – Target – Usually decently clean, but fairly busy bathrooms. Not for the shy.

#2. – Toys R Us – Surprisingly clean and usually empty in my experience.

#1. – Wal-mart – Surprising, right? It seems, though, that they have  a several times a day cleaning policy there. Rarely do I ever see a dirty bathroom at a Wal-mart. Also, they usually have two sets of restrooms in a store, one in front, and another in the back by layaway or site-to store pickup. The one in back is usually less busy, mostly used by employees. Also, if you have no shame, they often have a family bathroom in the back, which affords you a totally private experience.

Of course, your results may vary. Get out there, don’t be afraid to poop in public! Remember, everybody poops!

* (#2 is code for poop.)

Reality(?) Show Rundown

Is it a dirty word? “Reality” show. I hate them. The manufactured, bullshit scripted dating, people in a house who stop being polite, singing contest shows. I hate the spoiled 20-something “Contestants” on them. My wife watches the worst of them, including the Real World and the Real World Road Rules Challenge shows, and I can’t even be in the room with her while she does. They make me sick.

I have discovered that while I hate those type of shows, I can’t get enough of shows about people doing their jobs. It started with Dirty Jobs, on which Mike Rowe is a delight to watch slog through the worst occupations on the planet. It grew from there.

Here I give you, my favorite “Reality” shows about people doing their jobs:

Parking Wars

Parking Wars follows the parking enforcement officers of the cities of Philadelphia and Detroit as they ticket, tow, boot and impound the vehicles of law breaking citizens. The officers are amusing characters, I will watch Ponytail ticket in Detroit, and Garfield boot all over Philly any day. The best parts are, of course, the reactions of the ticketed, booted or impounded car owners. They flip the fuck out, trash their cars trying to escape, and just do not understand the laws of the cities they live in. It’s pretty awesome. Check it out on A&E. Full epsisodes are available  on their website: http://www.aetv.com/parking-wars/

Hardcore Pawn

I just recently discovered this jem of a show, which follows the happenings at American Jewelry and Loan in Detroit, Michigan. Les Gold and his son and daughter run the shop, along with a colorful cast of characters. The family fights constantly, battling for each others’ respect. The best part, is of course, the ridiculous customers who come in trying to sell things, and get upset that they can’t get a thousand dollars for a piece of junk. they flip out even more than the Parking wars people. I guess it helps that the store is at 8 Mile and Greenfield roads, right on the edge of Detroit. This show is the only one of the three I have added a series recording of to my DVR, it’s great. watch it on Tru TV. They also have full episodes online: http://www.trutv.com/shows/hardcore-pawn/index.html

Mounted In Alaska

This is another recent discovery. After seeing it on The Soup, I have become an avid viewer of Mounted in Alaska. This show isn’t as crazy as the others I’ve mentioned, but it’s still a fun watch. The show follows the happenings at Knight’s Taxidermy in Anchorage, Alaska. The owner, Russ Knight and his staff of cantankerous taxidermists goof around and build some pretty neat things out of dead stuff. It’s a funny show to watch on a quiet evening. Check it out on the History Channel. This one only has one full episode available online currently: http://www.history.com/shows/mounted-in-alaska

Happy Birthday, America!

Wait, they're making a new movie? What about me?

Woo! I was going to post the Team America theme song, but decide maybe we should be the only web site that doesn’t do that today. Instead, enjoy the trailer for Captain America, which is going to kick ass all over the place in a couple of weeks.

God damn, i can’t wait for that movie.

E.T: Jedi?

My five-year-old son Alex came home a few days ago insisting that he had learned from his friends that E.T. “Has the Force.” My wife chalked it up to him being cute and a believer in all things Star Wars, but he insisted it was true. Of course, she decided she’d show him by ordering E.T. from Netflix.

My wife and I had not seen E.T. since it was originally released 19 years ago, so the details were fuzzy, but she was sure he was no Jedi. Well, we watched the movie, and Alex is more convinced than ever that E.T. “Has the Force,” but now I agree with him.

In the movie, E.T. displays telekinetic powers, not unlike a Jedi might manipulate his surroundings with the Force.

Additionally, E.T. passes a kid dressed up as Yoda for Halloween, and tries to follow him, saying “Home, home.” It appears he recognizes Yoda, or at least his species.

Then of course, a delegation of E.T’s species is visible in Star Wars episode I.

This may not be a new idea, but I am now convinced that E.T. does exist in the same universe as Star Wars, and that while E.T. may not be  Jedi, he, and maybe his entire species, is at least Force-sensitive.

Alex and his friends were right.