Let Your Geek Flag Fly

Today, if you didn’t know, is Geek Pride Day. A quick trip to my good friend Google provided me with an explanation for why it falls on this day in particular – Geek Pride Day is May 25th because that’s the day of the official release of the original Star Wars movie. I knew that Star Wars: A New Hope was celebrating it’s 33rd birthday this year but I didn’t know the exact day it came out until now.

Geek Pride Day hasn’t been an official day for very long (just since 2006) but that doesn’t mean it’s not observed. Originating in Spain, there are now celebrations and observances of this great day in many other countries.

Geek Pride Day also happens to coincide with Towel Day, the holiday celebrating Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I believe Maggie is wearing a towel around at the coffee shop today, in observance. Not just a towel, mind you. I believe she also took her bathrobe in with her.

These are just four shelves for sci-fi/fantasy. This doesn't even scratch the surface.

Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure what exactly to do to celebrate Geek Pride Day. I mean, I’m fairly geeky on a daily basis anyway and I don’t have much desire to hide this fact. I’ve got a number of shirts that reference tv shows, movies and comics. I even have Scooby Doo socks. I’ve got the requisite geek pins that one finds at conventions and comic shops. I have a few graphic novels on my bookshelf, as well as the majority of one bookcase devoted to sci-fi and fantasy. A quick glance at my dvd shelves revealed that, of the 158 movies and tv shows in the case, 78 of them are sci-fi, fantasy or otherwise geek related (I wasn’t sure what to classify Clerks, Clerks 2 and Grandma’s Boy as, but I included them in the count). I should note that not all of my dvds are actually in my dvd shelves. I have more dvds than I have space to house them at the moment, and a number of my movies are currently scattered upstairs or packed away in a box, so the overall count is going to be much, much higher.

I’m not planning anything all that big for Geek Pride Day. Most of today will be spent holed up in my room, working on edits to The Leviathan. I finally got all of the preliminary comments on it back from my advisor and now comes the task of inputing all the suggestions. I forsee this taking up most of the rest of the week.

HOWEVER…I do not plan on letting the day go by wholly unmarked. I’ve already ventured out to Fairfax today. I went with Mom to pick my sister up from the coffee shop. I took greater care in picking out my clothes today than I typically do. I stood by my bed, debating which geek shirt to wear. I opted for the “Puppet Angel” shirt I bought at Polaris a few years back. I figured it was a tad more obscure and geeky than my Superman or Ghostbusters shirts.

I really wanted to wear my “Come to the Dark Side…we have cookies” shirt, but it’s been missing for at least a year. This upsets me.

I also picked up a hand towel from the linen closet before I headed out of the house. Mom saw me carrying it to the car and asked “Why are you bringing a towel?” I replied “Because it’s Towel Day.”

I could have just left it at that and I’m sure my mother would have simply shaken her head and accepted that it was

The towel says "What a fine day for science!"

 just another example of how weird her daughter is. I figured she deserved a little more explanation than that, though, so I told her about the day’s meaning. When we got to the coffee shop, we found my sister sitting outside at one of the tables. She had brought her bathrobe to her to work, as well as a Dexter’s Labratory towel. I deemed it an excellent choice for the day.

Maggie wasn’t wearing her bathrobe, but she had festooned her apron with all of her pins, and had brought along a towel as well. She also had her lightsaber and her sonic screwdriver with her. We took a few pictures inside the shop, and then the three of us trooped outside so Mom could take a picture of us outside one of the display windows at Laughing Ogre Comics. I’m sure people were wondering why three grown women were standing around with towels and sci-fi props. By now I’m used to the odd looks.

Don't mess with us!

I asked Maggie if she was going to spend Geek Pride Day playing Halo and Left for Dead 2, or if she was going to work on her Ripley gun. She replied that she’ll be working on the gun. It’s coming along very nicely. She’s been taking pictures with her cell phone as she goes along. Perhaps I’ll see if she’ll allow me to put them up here.

My friend Mel is spending a good part of the day reading fanfiction. I expected it to be Xena fanfic – one of Mel’s favorite geek-out indulgences – but she replied “Alas, no. Superman Returns fanfiction mixed with a healthy dose of Batman Begins/Dark Knight.” I seem to remember her reading some Superman Returns fan fiction on our recent Fairy Fest camping trip. I’ll admit, I’ve not yet delved much into the realm of fanfic. I’ve come across some absolute crap in some of my searching, which is probably what has kept me from looking for more. I have, however, read a few wonderful pieces. My friend Red used to write Harry Potter fanfic, which introduced new characters and storylines into the official canon. I was reading it about the time Half-Blood Prince came out (I’m pretty sure that was the book) and I remember sitting on my bed, wondering where certain characters were. Then I had to stop and remind myself that Red’s storylines were completely separate from Rowling’s.

There was also an absolutely wonderful X-Men fanfic that I read once. I stumbled upon it with the help of Google, though I don’t remember now what I had entered into the search field. The story follows the character of Dani Moonstar, one of the few Native superheroes I’ve ever heard of. Oh, and as a warning, if you decide to click over to the fanfic link just know that it’s got a little bit of adult material. Nothing huge, but it’s there. Then again, that’s usually the case with a lot of the fanfic that’s out there. I loved the piece for several reasons, but I think a big part of my joy during the reading came from the fact that the other character featured in the story is Lenape. There’s a joke about his shirt early on and, because I know a smattering of Lenape, I got it before the author explained it.

I don’t make a big deal about my Native culture in my day-to-day life. For the most part, it’s just another aspect of my personality, just like being a geek. It’s not something I separate from the rest of me. There are a few things about Native culture that I don’t explain to every Tom, Dick and Harry I meet on the street, and some of these are touched on in the story. One of the reasons I loved this fan fiction was that it was about more than just the geek factor of being an X-Men fanfic. It says something deeper about Native culture and, to a smaller degree, mainstream American culture. There’s more to it that I’d love to delve into, but that’s not really the focus of this entry. Suffice it to say, I loved this story so much that I went ahead and emailed the author after I read it. As I said, I don’t read fanfic very often, and I’ve never emailed any of the other writers whose work I’ve checked out. Well, I’ve emailed Red but I don’t count that, as I knew her beforehand. Minisinoo, however, is a complete stranger to me.

My friend Romeo has plans to have a lan party with his brother-in-law and a friend over the Memorial Day weekend. Though technically not falling on Geek Pride Day, I think it fits in nicely with the theme. He said it was going to be cool. Or rather, “as cool as geeky can be.”

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll probably have already read the entry “Cool isn’t the Operative Word Here,” and so you’ll know some of my feelings about how geekdom is viewed in the mainstream American public. We geeks occupy an occasionally tenuous place in the world. We’re made fun of in movies, picked on by jocks (though I know a number of folks who fall into both the jock and geek/nerd categories), and our well-publicized love of our respective geekdoms often meet with derision from people who just “don’t get it.”

I’d argue, though, that we’re much more important and influential to the daily culture of this country than we’re often given credit for. Obviously, there’s the fact that most of us are technological wizards who program everyone’s computers and troubleshoot the technology that runs our lives. Not all geeks are technologically gifted, of course. If there’s one thing my Intro to Logic course taught be back in undergrad, it’s that you shouldn’t make that kind of general statement, as there will always be someone or something that proves to be the exception. In this case, I would be that exception. I can deal with a good amount of the tech that’s around today, but I’m by no means knowledgeable in how to fix computers, build robots, etc. No, my geek skills rest in other places.

You might have noticed that, more and more, movies and television shows are coming out that seem specially geared towards geeks. There’s Heroes (which, unfortunately, has been cancelled), Fringe, Supernatural (coming back for another season!), Big Bang Theory and, of course, Chuck.

Oh, Chuck. So many geeky intersections in that show. It has Adam Baldwin! And it had Bakula! The two-hour season finale aired yesterday. If you haven’t already seen it…wow. It was pretty awesome. It answered a few questions and paved the way for what I think could be its best season. Originally, this was to be the last season for Chuck. I guess NBC wised up and realized it was one of the station’s biggest draws. I love the show for a number of reasons, but I think a large part of my appreciation comes from the fact that the geek gets the girl in this show. See? Geeks are good!

I’ve been dipping my toes back into the dating waters lately (don’t worry, I’m not completely jumping the shark here). I believe in being up-front and honest with folks when meeting them for the first time, so I don’t believe in holding back the knowledge that I’m a geek. A big one. This has occasionally worked to my advantage (it’s great when you come across a guy who LOVES the fact that you built your own lightsaber out of bits from the plumbing aisle in Home Depot). I’m sure it’s also counted against me. It’s not something I’m going to hide, though.

Quite honestly, it’s not something I really could hide. I mean, there are pictures of me in full Jedi garb, hugging a guy at Dragon*Con dressed as Bumblebee. I have a giant koala-owl head in the middle of my workspace at the moment.

This here's my geekin' cap.

 I’ve got a Jawa bobblehead and an Indiana Jones Mr. Potato head on a shelf in my computer room. My geek factor is a big part of my personality and has been for quite some time. I grew up watching the original Star Wars films (we had vhs copies that my mom had taped off of HBO). There were two things I wanted to be when I was little…I wanted to be a Jedi and I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Now, the one would be kind of difficult, simply because of the fact that, well, I’m not Harrison Ford. But I have since gone out dressed as a Jedi numerous times. I just need to find someone who’ll dress as Indy for me.

Or Han Solo. Mmm. Yeah. Han would be nice. Those pants are awesome.

Sorry. Got side-tracked.

At any rate, I’ve been a geek for a good long while. All three of us kids (my siblings and I) are geeks, really. My parents had a hand in this, though I’m not sure they realize it. All those movie nights with Star Wars and Indy and Gremlins and Jaws, etc. were bound to have an influence on us. My brother has a Boba Fett hoodie. It’s one of his favorite things. My sister had a whole bunch of geeky bumper stickers on her old car, and has a Star Wars ringtone on her phone. So far I’m the only one of us three who’s taken it to the extreme of dressing up in elaborate costumes on a regular basis, but I don’t think my sister is very far behind in that.

The point of today is…

Whatever your specific geekdom is, never be afraid to revel in it. Sure, there are people who might look at you strangely when you get excited about a new comic book movie or the release of the new Jim Butcher book (by the way, Butcher trumps anything else for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading something else when he comes out with a new book. It gets put aside until I’m finished with the new Butcher book), but there are also people who look at die-hard sports fans and people who enjoy flyfishing with the same confusion and derision. Don’t feel like you have to hide your geekiness. As the ever-wise Dr. Seuss wrote:

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Smart is definitely sexy. There is bound to be someone out there in the world who “gets” you and loves that you love painting miniatures, make amiguri in your spare time, or have all seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on dvd. Whatever else you do in life, let your geek flag fly!

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