Alert Nerd: Our True Geek Confessions!

Alert Nerd: Our True Geek Confessions!

Feb 17

Brace yourselves, gentle readers, for these are our…TRUE GEEK CONFESSIONS.

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Sarah: Pryde in the Unpopular ‘Ship

I usually manage to throw my support behind ‘ships that inspire a reasonably okay amount of fan enthusiasm. Except for one.

Mention Kitty Pryde-Pete Wisdom on the internet and you’ll find yourself instantly drowned out by a chorus of overzealous GAK-ing. “That’s (gak) gross!” screams the internet. “The (gak) age difference! The non-Colossusness of it all! The fact that Pete Wisdom is a total author insert, and therefore Warren Ellis basically created a character so he could (gak) BONE KITTY PRYDE THROUGH COMIC BOOK PICTURES.”

Yeah, okay -– I get that. And I don’t care about any of it. Because the instant battle-scarred ingenue Kitty hooked up with foul-mouthed Brit Pete, I found them to be…

1. Really hot.
2. An actual realistic couple that does couple-y things in between all of their save-the-world superhero angst.

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As part of mid-90s Excalibur, they fall in love during a particularly high stakes adventure that throws them together. There’s prickly banter and a bucketful of hesitation on both sides and their initial capital-M Moments involve something as simple and sweet as hand-holding (cause Kitty has to phase ‘em both through security fences and stuff –- I think this is what qualifies as “cute” when it comes to X-Men courtships). And yes, I’ll admit some of my initial attraction probably sprang from the notion that I think they look REALLY INCREDIBLY GOOD TOGETHER. Kitty is in one of her Big Dynasty Hair phases and Pete wears rumpled white shirts and trenchcoats and sports a permanent 5 o’clock shadow. All of these things were immensely appealing to me in the ’90s and are probably even more appealing to me now.

But really, my favorite stuff goes down once they’re actually together, once we get to witness the Ellis-quip-laced unfolding of the relationship. I love, for instance, that there are two whole pages in Excalibur #102 dedicated solely to them exchanging barbs over breakfast (“Watching you eat is like watching a car crash,” says Kitty. “Horrible but strangely fascinating”). I love that Kitty bugs Pete to stop smoking and he shoots her a look of pure adoration while she’s doing so. I love that we get to see them in that early stage of love, the one we rarely get to witness when it comes to superheroes: the part where two people just like each other.

But the thing I just might love most of all? Having gotten to know Kitty as an adult (rather than as a starry-eyed youngster who crafts her own costumes out of glitter and legwarmers), Pete actually treats her like one. He doesn’t do the overprotective alpha male thing. When she’s kicking ass, he steps back and lets her –- admires her in an awestruck yet non-pedestal-y way. He isn’t afraid of her power. “You see that beautiful woman dancing on the throats of your gunmen?” he brags to a bloodied crime boss as Kitty takes care of business. “That’s my girlfriend, that is.” Despite the age difference, these two feel more like partners than a lot of couplings in the Marvel U.

Of course…this is the X-Men. And the relationship, like most, eventually devolves into angst and they go their separate ways. But during the height of their ‘shippiness, the glorious Pryde and Wisdom miniseries days, I remember being ecstatic that there was a couple who knew how to have fun, who genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, and yeah, okay…who looked really, really awesome together.

Y’all can “gak” all you want. I’ll be over here, reading through that damn breakfast scene for the umpteen millionth time.

Sarah Kuhn

Matt: Haven’t Seen It, Haven’t Read It

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My first boss and I had a running gag that anytime I mentioned a movie I hadn’t ever seen, it was because I had to see Star Wars again.

At one point, he even made me a list — I wish I still had it — of about 25 ’80s movies that I needed to see to have any sort of pop culture awareness whatsoever. The Breakfast Club, The Flamingo Kid, Weird Science, The Lost Boys, Revenge of the Nerds — it was a big list.

I could make a similar list documenting all of the essential geek touchstone movies, books, TV shows, and comics I’ve never experienced. It’d be scary.

I’ve never seen 2001, The Road Warrior, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining. Never watched Metropolis, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original OR remake), or even the first Terminator. I’ve never watched any Monty Python. I consider myself to be a die-hard Trekkie but I’ve only seen about 40% of the original series episodes and maybe half of Next Generation. I’ve never seriously watched Deep Space Nine (sorry, Sarah).

I love Joss Whedon but I’ve only seen about three episodes of Firefly. I own the DVDs. I watched one episode of Dollhouse. Buffy is one of my all-time favorite shows but I’ve never seen every episode. Ditto Angel.

I’ve yet to read any Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Bova, Turtledove, Ellison, Dick, or Pratchett. I’ve never read Dune. I used to attend many literary sci-fi cons back in Chicago; I felt like an embarrassment and a poseur.

I’ve never read all of Sandman, Preacher, Strangers in Paradise, Love and Rockets, or From Hell. (At least I own the latter.) Haven’t gotten to Howard the Duck, most of Alan Moore’s ABC work (Tom Strong, Promethea, Top Ten), Ennis’ Punisher or Bendis’ Alias. I’ve never read Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, Wolfman & Perez Teen Titans, or even Lee/Ditko Spider-Man.

SW-You-Fail

So what the hell have I been doing, anyway?

That’s a good question. I guess I’ve been…living, or something? Not like, “I have a life, thank you, so I don’t have time to be a geek,” but more like, “Hey, I do what I can when I can, DON’T JUDGE ME I DON’T NEED TO TURN IN MY NERD CARD DO I?”

But see, you probably aren’t judging me. In fact, you probably have your own long list of geek touchstones you’ve never gotten around to viewing. Maybe you even look at my own viewing list, the Buffy episodes or the Star Trek, and you envy that I’ve seen so much of it.

What bothers me most about my confession is that I know there is so much I have yet to see, do, read, experience; and when I kick it old-school in my wooden crate some sixty to ninety years from now (they HAVE to have some kind of longevity pills worked out by then, right?), I will leave all that unseen, undone, unread, and not ever experienced. Granted, something like “visiting London” or “watching my kids get married” will rank WAY higher on that list than reading I, Robot. But still. As a geek, these things do matter.

What bothers me second most about this confession is that I immediately assume I’ll be judged as UNGEEK for my transgressions. As if everyone else out there in nerdville has been lurking around my hedges just waiting for me to show a weakness they can pounce on. As if anyone but me even gives two shits what I have seen or haven’t seen.

Is there a geek canon? I think so. Have I seen even half of it? Probably not. Does this bother me? Yes. Are others judging me because of it? Probably not. Did I pick up this asking myself questions bit from Kate Gosselin? Yep.

Matt Springer

Chris: I keep scrubbing, but the word “sucker” won’t come off my forehead

Kids aren’t bright – sorry, they can be bright, but as they are still accumulating knowledge, either through books, observation, or harsh life lessons, they qualify, at best, as dumb. That means they’ll bust out shit like, “Salt is comprised of a sodium atom and a chlorine atom” at the dinner table and while you’re thinking, “holy fuck, where did he/she pick that up?” they manage to get some in their eye and start bawling.

Which is to say that while as a young man I had some taste and refinement when it came to comics. I understood Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri were a great team on Uncanny X-men and that the arrival of Jim Lee heralded the start of something… not as good. I understood that Epic Illustrated and Heavy Metal were both artistic AND had boobs in them.

I also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if it had #1 stamped on it, it was gonna be worth something some day. The 80s were the heyday of selling kids on the idea of bagging and boarding books, the lure of imaginary riches far too great to resist. And for all my brightness, I grabbed that shaker, lifted my wide eyes to the burning sun, and poured like there was no tomorrow.

I HATED (and continue to HATE) Rob Liefeld’s art. That didn’t stop me from buying two copies of X-Factor #1 – one to read and one to save, obviously, seeing as it came (as so many did back then) sealed in a bag, with a baseball card. I bought Sledgehammer #1, because it said right there, on the cover, “1st Collector’s Item Issue! Based on the hit TV show that refuses to DIE!” Gah! Gimme!

Gold foil? I was in. Variant covers? Had to get them all. It didn’t matter. Anything they said was collectible, I bought. Little did I know that I wasn’t alone – comic shops everywhere, have one or two long-boxes of shame in the back, which contain, with their mocking repetition, dozens and dozens of the same, shitty, it’ll-be-a-big-seller comics. I have an anecdote about one of these long-boxes full of sad, but I’ll save it… maybe write it up on its own later in the week.

I will say this though – there is one book where I refuse to admit geek failure.

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While I did buy into it because it was a new series and because I liked (and still like) Keith Giffen’s art, I stayed for Cary Bate’s clever idea about a magic TV remote – only unlike later lifts/rips of the idea, like Stay Tuned, Pleasantville, or whatever that stupid Adam Sandler movie was, the remote did not take Jack into hero world nor give him TV power over the real world; rather, in Video Jack, the TV world spilled out and transformed the real world. Everybody was affected and the first of many of Keith Giffen’s creepy, faceless, grinning adversaries was introduced – Jack’s best “friend”, out to rule everything after the change.

Whatever, the point is, I’m pretty much the only guy that bought and read it – it didn’t even make it to a 7th issue, but Bates and Giffen essentially “powering off” the story universe rather than wrap it up. Very meta. Very Giffen, even if he didn’t write it.

The book sold so badly at my local comic shop, the store owner actually saved the in-store poster and gave it to me with the last issue. Nice guy, under appreciated comic, yet another #1 that will not earn me a dime.

Thank Christ I enjoy reading it. In fact… I’d like to find it and read it now.

* That is me, that is the actress hired by Sony to promote Everquest. Not pictured, my ass, her hand. See, nice guys do win at the trade shows. It’s not really a Geek Confession so much as a Geek brag, but there is an element of scandal about it, so…

Chris Stewart

Jeff: Viva La Jar Jar!

Look, I like the prequels.  That was like ripping a band-aid off, but it’s also the harsh, painful truth: I am such an unflinching and inveterate fan of Star Wars that I like Episodes I-III.  I think they each have their merits as part of the overarching saga, even if they are less successful as films that you can enjoy context-free.

Episode I is the weakest of the three – hell, the weakest of most movies with the word Star in the title – but there is merit all over that film in between the awful dialogue and the silly, forced set pieces like the sub chase.  That visual on the Trade Federation haze, the lightsabers coming out of the smoke, not to mention each of the fight scenes, which are the first time in my life that I’d actually gotten to see a Jedi in action, not an old man or a half-trained boy, but the scary-proficient ass-kicking warrior monks who could take down an entire detail of battle droids before the first droid’s head hit the floor.  Yes, they are inferior movies, but a lot of nerds love a lot of inferior movies on an irrational level; we do it all the time.  We often love the things we love because of their flaws, not even in spite of them.
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The political intrigue that runs throughout the trilogy? I like it, especially knowing what’s coming.  At its core, Star Wars as a living, ongoing story is a fable about governance, much like Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale (not Ledger’s Knight’s Tale).  It is only natural that the prequel deal with the Republic’s dissolution and Palpatine’s rise to power, and I appreciate the sentiment that the galaxy’s greatest evil came to power as a compromise candidate, that his ascent likely could have been stopped were it not for, essentially, laziness.

I’m like the Oskar Schindler of the prequel trilogy; I have a safe place prepared for it, but spend my day trying to heap derision on it and act like all my other geek friends to throw off the scent, so to speak.

Contrary to the subheader, I don’t like Jar Jar.  He’s a tragic figure, when you think about it – an alien who is responsible for the most anti-alien dictator in the Republic’s history to assume power and institute a decades-long reign of bigotry and hate.  That should have been Jar Jar’s arc – a bumbling oaf who makes good, becomes responsible and respected and discovers, in the end, that he can only ever be a bumbling oaf, no matter how big his constituency.  That was not the arc that we got; in fact, there was no arc at all.  So no, I don’t like Jar Jar, but all the other stuff.

-Jeff Stolarcyk

21 comments

  1. Hey, I bought & read Video Jack! Then I threw it away during a longbox-jettisoning fit of housecleaning.

  2. Sarah: You know how I feel about Kitty. Hell, the entire Internet knows how I feel about Kitty. That being said, I LOVE the Kitty and Wisdom ‘ship. C’mon, he’s British and a spy. I’d do him. (Although, I also really love the “About time.” joke from Astonishing X-Men.)

    Matt: You’re strange.

    Chris: I have the full run of Sledgehammer…granted, I think it’s only five issues.

    Jeff: You’re dead to me.

  3. Be careful there, Danno…don’t brag too much about that awesome run of Sledgehammer you have in your house. You’ll have jealous geeks breaking down you doors to steal it.

  4. Sarah, I’ve never actually read any of that Excalibur, but I’m pretty sure as far as author-inserts hooking up with characters goes, Pete Wisdom was handled a lot better than that creepy guy who married Donna Troy.

    Matt, I’m with you on that long list of geek things I’ve never seen. My own list, while different from yours, is equally long and causes me mixed distress and defensiveness.

    Chris, you actually make me a little sad I missed the 80s/90s comic collecting boom! That Video Jack thing sounds legitimately awesome.

    Jeff — that’s a great point, about seeing a Jedi in action. I think watching Obi-Wan’s arc is the best part of the prequels, and I would hate for that not to exist. The movies definitely have merit.

  5. Well, whaddaya know- I was wondering who the other person that bought Video Jack back in the day was, and I’m suddenly confronted with the inescapable knowledge that there were TWO other someones!

  6. Matt! My brother and I were making a list of things we haven’t seen that everyone assumes we’ve seen just last night.

    Jeff! I love Padme, I really do. There are lots and lots of things to like and love about the prequels. Sigrid actually emailed me to tell me you’d written about the prequels so I would know I’m not alone in it.

  7. Ivan S.

    Here’s my Top 10 rundown of my geek confessions (or “admissions only a geek would see as a confession.)

    1) I’ve never seen an episode of Dr. Who. Not one. I tried as a kid, but couldn’t get over the lousy sfx. They may be better now, but my brain still can’t see beyond the 10 minutes I watched in 1984.

    2) I don’t have a pull list. Yes, I pay cover price for my comic books. I know I’m dumb, but I have commitment issues when it comes to comics. Sure, I’ve bought every Avengers title for the past 6 years, but put it on a pull list? That’s COMMITMENT.

    3) I didn’t think the Dolph Lundgren Masters of the Universe movie was so bad.

    4) I think Ellie is hotter than Sarah. Sorry, Chuck.

    5) I think DS9 is the best Trek of them all.

    6) I really, really, want stormtrooper armor. A full set. I check ebay for prices almost every other day. I have no room for it in my house, but no matter. I just want the armor to wear around for no reason. I’d walk the dog in it. I don’t even OWN a dog. I’d borrow my neighbor’s dog. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen it for less than $599. I’d need more than armor to protect me were my wife to ever find out how much it was.

    7) I’m not much of a gamer. I only got an Xbox 360 a year ago.

    8) I watch Independence Day almost every time it’s on. And it’s on A LOT.

    9) I don’t see the appeal of Buckaroo Banzai. I’ve seen it enough. I understand camp. But this one….this one is lost on me.

    10) I also didn’t think Indy4 was THAT bad. I kinda liked it, actually.

  8. Jennifer–looks like you can get all six issues of Video Jack for under $6 at mycomicshop.com; I just put it on my want list…I’m a sucker for Giffen’s pencils.

    Ivan–I have your back on Indy 4. It’s not deathless filmmaking but it’s a fun flick with some real high points from a Spielberg action movie perspective.

    Overall, I’m having a hard time with this “liking the prequels” thing. It frightens me.

  9. Seth Armstrong

    Well, since you say you’ve got kids, that right there is excuse enough for not having seen or read a lot of this stuff! I don’t have any myself, just going on stories I have heard about my nieces and friends’ kids.

  10. Sarah, I know nothing of Pryde and Wisdom beyond this essay but you make a great case for them!

    Matt, I think the same thing happens in academic circles among the ‘seriously’ well-read. There’s a tendency to compare our single experience against the collective experience of EVERYONE ELSE, whereas I think if you actually talk to a given individual for any amount of time, they have gaps too.

    Chris, that book sounds amazing.

    Jeff, I also like a lot of stuff in the prequels, particularly the 3rd one. And I even know people who prefer them to the ‘main’ trilogy!

  11. Anika, you bring up a point that I meant to include there and kind of forgot to: Padme is the best contribution to Star Wars that the prequels made. She is a fabulous character that doesn’t get enough to do.

    Jennifer, if you like prequel-era Obi-wan, you should read Matt Stover’s Episode III novelization. In fact, all three of the prequel novelizations are probably worthwhile, and contribute a bit to my general like of the films. Terry Brooks’ Episode I goes much darker and less campier than its counterpart, and Stover’s Revenge of the Sith is an excellent sci-fi/fantasy novel, not just an excellent film adaptation (R. A. Salvatore’s paint-by-numbers Episode II novel isn’t anything special, but it makes the romance a bit more palatable, in my opinion).

    Dan: UR BR8KNG MAI <3

  12. Dan F.: I think your “I would do Pete Wisdom” statement should count as yet another True Geek Confession. (ps: I would, too!)

    Jen, Caroline: That Ellis Excalibur run is a particular favorite of mine. I feel like it does a great job with one of the best aspects of Excalibur, which is the book’s ability to tell weird, fantastical X-Men stories that are still…well, X-Men stories. And none of Ellis’ author stand-in characters really bother me — in fact, the more that I think about it? They’re some of my favorites! (Pete, Spider Jerusalem, Jenny Sparks.) I don’t know what this says about me. I’m sort of afraid to find out.

    Ivan: You know I’m with you on #5, but re: #4…are Sarah and Ellie really in competition with each other? I mean…considering that Ellie is Chuck’s *sister* and all?

    Jeff, Anika: We’re still bros, but OMG does Padme BUG THE SHIT OUT OF ME. :)

    Chris: The best part of that pic is the look on your face.

  13. Sarah: Perhaps I’ll have to write a second TGC post…

    Caroline, Jen: What Sarah said. The original EXCALIBUR was a great book. And, as good as the early Claremont/Davis stuff was, the later issues with Pete Wisdom, Wolfsbane, Douglock, and Colossus were even better. For a long time, it was the one Marvel book I looked forward to each month. (And, yes: Kitty, Wisdom, and Colossus were all on the same team at the same time.)

    Jeff: Only a Sith deals in absolutes. Wait…that’s an absolute…which means… Oh, bugger.

  14. I think I’m gonna have to do a full post on one of my all-time favorite issues of Ellis Excalibur. Oh, yes…I’m talking about MUTANTS’ NIGHT OUT.

  15. Ivan S.

    Sarah,

    Why must every ‘ship be a competition with you?! Poor FakeJeff. Ha! But what I meant by “Sorry Chuck,” is that, as her brother, he’d never ever think that his sister was “hot.” And, boy, would he be wrong.

  16. I think the only thing that could get me to watch Chuck at this point would be a really squirm-inducing plotline where Chuck does realize his sister is hot, and acts on it.

  17. So, Matt, your OTHER true geek confession is that you plot incest-driven storylines for prime time shows in your spare time?

  18. Ivan: Yeah, I only thought there was a competitive aspect because of the “Sorry, Chuck”! I did not get your subtle meaning. I think Sarah and Ellie are both lovely, though I will admit that I have kind of a raging ladycrush on Sarah in particular. (Captain Awesome is also swell.)

  19. C.M. Gonzalez

    A few years after having given up on it, I got sucked back into “Smallville” with that whole Justice Society thing.

    The adventures of Not-Superman feed my hobby of getting mad at things, and oh man, there’s just so much fuel.

  20. Sarah, my Confession was (((((((this))))))) close to being “I think Padme is more interesting than Leia” but I was told people don’t hate on Padme so much anymore. Maybe I should write another one.

  21. I think a lot of people are with you on all counts, C.M. As I mentioned on Twitter, the only part of the show I really enjoy now is Lois. Lois RULES.

    Anika: You know, Padme is one of the few characters where I feel like I really have no gauge as to how popular/unpopular she is. It seems like maybe there’s been a surge of Padme support in the last few years? Even though I disagree with the premise, that would certainly be an interesting essay to read!

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