02 03 Nerd Lunch: Zombies, Mining, and Barnacles 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Zombies, Mining, and Barnacles

Jeeg, PLee and I had a good e-mail discussion yesterday. Here's an edited version that we share with you.


Re: The Walking Dead . . . suddenly a genre show is cool and if you didn't watch it, you're a nerd outcast. I think I liked it better when society didn't like the things I like.

Nerds spend so much time on the cultural fringes, it can be hard to accept something that hits it big in the mainstream. Heck, a year from now Disney will be promoting the hell out of the Captain America movie, and there will be Howling Commando action figures, and I will say, man, I was into Dum Dum Dugan waaaaay back when.

And for most of society, their nerding out about something is very surface level. I liken it to mining. Average society person sees a shiny rock, calls it gold and moves on. It may or may not be gold. Guys like us see something shiny, really examine it, and if we determine it's gold, we set up camp and mine the heck out of the land.

I think that ticks us off on some level with the surface nerd comes along and says, "Hey, this Dum Dum Dugan guys is cool!" And we're 40 feet in the ground yelling, "I've been saying that for years!"

I will say this in favor of the non-nerds: when something makes a big leap into the mainstream, it's oftentimes because someone has done the hard work of taking an old idea, scraping away all the barnacles, and getting it down to its essence.

For instance . . . you ever read any late-70s pre-movie Superman comics? It was the Same Old Crap. Clark Kent and Lois Lane are TV anchors, and I think they might've finally met a black person, but it was just so mired in decades of detritus . . . Donner comes along and says, forget Superboy, Krypto, Earth-2, the Legion, the League . . . let's get down to basics.

Now us nerdfolk, we like the barnacles, so Hollywood wisely paints them up and calls them Easter eggs. So I think the real trick is to give us, say, an Iron Man movie that gets the character across to the non-nerd audience, while still throwing us nerds some stuff like a Happy Hogan cameo.

There's a whole parallel subculture in music with people who detest it when a band makes the big time and becomes mainstream. And it's not always that the essence of the band changes, but also that the fandom becomes rife with people who don't really understand why the band is good/special.

My wife has pointed out various times when she's thought that my opinion has been based largely on going against popular sentiment. This came up during the Great Chuck Debate of 2010. I responded by pointing out that hardly anyone watches Chuck and it's almost been canceled 3 times, so by that logic I should love it. That did not help my argument.

I guess I just like my interests to be my own as much as possible. Mainly because that's how it's been for most of my life. Very, very few of my peers shared my interests growing up so these things I like are very much part of who I am. And now that a bunch of other people seem to like this stuff, too, I'm feeling a bit crowded out. Which drives me to find more and more obscure things to like.

With some rare exceptions (the two of you among them), I have a hard time being open-minded when someone tells me, "CT, you should watch ________. You would love it." When Joe Commonperson tells me that, I recoil and now whatever the suggestion was has to fight extra hard to be liked by me.

And nothing against the zombie show, but it's amazing how a five minute clip that largely seemed to rip of 28 Days Later got everyone in a frenzy. "This show is going to be sooooo good!" How do you know?

Eh, whatever. I'm sure it is great and I do plan to watch it some day.

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