Mount Rushmore of Nerdom

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Mount Rushmore is really an impressive piece of work. I've never seen it in person, but I think someday I'd like to.  It is a monument to four presidents who represented the first 150 years of American history and were chosen because they preserved or expanded the country in some way.

Every so often you hear this term bandied about..."Who would be on the 'Mount Rushmore of ________?'" Maybe it's sports or meat science.  That's not us.  Over the next four days, Nerd Lunch will present the "Mount Rushmore of Nerdom."  Who are the four people that represent Nerdom's preservation or expansion?  What four faces symbolically encompass all of Nerdom?

The answers await you over the next four days but before then, I want to hear from you.  Who do you think belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Nerdom?  Will your answers be the same as mine?  Stay tuned!

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

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Jeeg and I both have expressed our fondness for Conan O'Brien and on Twitter and The Facebook, I've been dropping hints at my disdain for the recent events brought on by NBC. It's hard to find something new to say about this that hasn't been said. Even as I try to compose this post, I find that I harken back to things I said weeks ago.

I guess what fascinates me the most is the immense following Conan has and the support he's gotten in recent weeks. Especially in contrast to the guy they're replacing him with...the one who had the best ratings in that time slot for 15 years.  First, even though I'm not a Neilsen family, I can't help but feel a bit guilty for not having watched Conan's Tonight Show more. With the grad school and the kids and the [fill in the blank excuse here], I just haven't been able to catch the show as much as I'd like.  I forced myself to stay up and watch the last three episodes live (followed by a ceremonial deprogramming of NBC off of my programmed channels list on early Saturday morning). I can't help but wonder where all these millions of people who were watching Conan the past couple weeks were. Had they been watching earlier, Conan wouldn't be out of a job right now.

What does this say, though? The times they are a-changin' and my generation (Gen X) and the generations that come after mine don't watch appointment television the same way we used to and the way our parents did/do. NBC graduated Roosterhead to the big chair to appeal to us and then have shunned us seven months later.  It's been interesting to read all the theories behind why Conan has gotten such a swell of support. Some have theorized that it's a generational thing, Gen X versuse Boomers.  Maybe there's something to that. It's time for us to have OUR Tonight Show now. (But then we don't watch it.)  Others have theorized the support just comes from a vicarious desire to be able to tell our bosses what we think in much the same way Conan has been able to. That may be it, too.

I see both of those reasonings, but for me, it's something more. Maybe my feelings on the matter can be summed up best in an e-mail I send to the other Nerd Lunchers:
I'll admit that I'm taking this whole Conan thing a bit more personally than I should.  I think every kid has those lofty dreams they want to chase.  I had several.  Write the Superman comics.  Become a Muppeteer.  Host The Tonight Show.  And then reality sets in and it becomes something you stop chasing.  Conan never stopped chasing.  He's me if I didn't stop chasing and actually got the big chair.  So if NBC has indeed told him he's out, NBC has told me that I'm out, too.
 I don't know where Conan will end up. My current guess is that he'll end up somewhere doing something that is similar but never reaches the heights he achieved during Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Or maybe he'll surprise me and do something even better. Whatever he does, I hope he never stops chasing.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: In-N-Out Burger

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I've never been to California and really have no desire to go. I’m OK with that because the list of downsides to my aversion to the Golden State is pretty short:

  1. I’ll never attend a taping of Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show
  2. I’ll never see the giant sequoias in person
  3. I’ll never have the opportunity to try one of the west coast's most celebrated fast food experiences, In-N-Out Burger

As it happens, In-N-Out is slowly expanding their territory to the east and I did not have to go to California to sample their fare. So thanks to some holiday travel and our friends at NBC, General Sherman now stands alone on my California list.

Jeeg's Double-Double In-N-Out has always intrigued me because it seems to be one of the few local favorites that is universally praised. Whether it be Chicago style pizza or Philly cheesesteak, locals are often quick to point out something better or more authentic than the famous items offered to tourists. In-N-Out Burger, however, seems to be beloved by locals, tourists, and celebrities alike.

The In-N-Out menu is pretty simple: hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, fries, and drinks. You can also do a grill order or pick something off the "secret menu”, but as a newbie I decided to keep things straightforward. I opted for the Double-Double, so I could use familiar double cheeseburgers, say the Wendy's Classic Double or the Culver's Double Deluxe, as frames of reference.

The meat seemed most comparable to McDonald's Angus Third Pounders. The beef was slightly better than even the best McDonald’s has to offer, but the flavor was similar to the classic fried burger taste that all McD’s burgers have. The toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion) were the freshest I’ve seen in fast food and quite tasty. Though I have to say it was strange to have special sauce (Thousand Island dressing) on something other than a Big Mac. The french fries were excellent; fresh cut fries just cannot be beat.

All in all, In-N-Out Burger delivered a very good hossin’ experience. It was not the best burger I have ever eaten, but it was definitely top tier. To quote a famous Californian, “I’ll be back.”

Signing the Cast: Buckaroo Banzai

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Welcome to the 300th post on the Nerd Lunch blog. I love doing these Signing the Casts, they can just be a bit time consuming. But I thought it might make a good entry as our anniversary post especially considering the love PLee and I have for this particular movie (sorry, Jeeg). You know the premise so let's jump right in...

Buckaroo Banzai came out in 1982 and was a massively huge hit. So huge in fact that it hardly made any money and to this day only has a cult following. I've written about Buckaroo Banzai before and a bit of my history with it. Ultimately, I'm at a place where I don't want anymore Buckaroo Banzai and I don't want a remake. But should they ever make a new Buckaroo Banzai of some kind, I think it would be the perfect vehicle for some fan favorite stars from the nerd genre to land.

VIGGO MORTENSEN as "DR. BUCKAROO BANZAI"
Aragorn himself needs a new franchise and this could be it. Quiet, reserved, thoughtful, and twenty steps ahead of everyone else in the world, Mortensen would make an excellent Buckaroo Banzai.



ADAM BALDWIN as "RAWHIDE"
Tough guy with a bit of an attitude, Adam Baldwin can take a break from his gig on Chuck to film this role.



KATEE SACKHOFF as "PENNY PRIDDY"
In the movie, Penny was kind of messed up for some strange reason. Katee Sackoff can play messed up as we've seen in Battlestar Galactica.



CHRIS PINE as "PERFECT TOMMY"
With that New Star Trek thingie, Chris Pine might be too much of a leading man now for a supporting role like this.



SETH ROGEN as "NEW JERSEY"
Again, Seth Rogen's star may be too high for this role, but I think he could bring the needed goofballness to this movie.



RALPH MACCHIO as "RENO NEVADA"
A choice better than Scott Baio, but not by much, how about the Karate Kid himself as this main support staffer of Dr. Banzai's?

Big Blue Walrus Movie

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avatar_preview_poster Don’t cry for me, Internet. The truth is I never left you. I just had to work A LOT and travel over the past month. However, I did get to see that Avatar movie all the kids are talking about. I’ll keep this post brief and spoiler free since there may be two people left in North America, including CT, who haven’t seen this flick.

Story

Run the scripts for Pocahontas, Zulu, Titanic, and Aliens through a blender and you‘d probably end up with the plot for Avatar. You could also end up something where Michael Caine fights his way across a luxury liner crawling with aliens in order to be with the cartoon love of his life, but that sounds more like a Signing The Cast post for another time. Anyway, the story is adequately constructed, but I found it to be very predictable and WAY too long.

Presentation

Presentation is clearly what Avatar is about. The cinematography is solid and the special effects are simply amazing. I did not see the movie in 3D or IMAX, but it’s a visual treat even on a conventional theater screen. The acting performances are mediocre, though most of the characters don’t provide much depth for the actors to work with.

STORY

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PRESENTATION

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REWATCHABLE

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I wouldn’t pay movie ticket prices to see it again, but I will rent Avatar when it drops on DVD/Blu-ray. Beyond experiencing the special effects again, I’d like to be able to pay more attention to the universe Cameron has created.

Nerd Year Resolutions

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I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. I get the premise and don't begrudge people who try, but I know myself and I hate failing, so I don't generally even try. However, that's not to say that I don't believe in bettering one's self. I have made efforts to do just that in the last couple years. Unfortunately, my three biggest recent achievements have drastically cut into my nerdin'.

In 2008, my wife and I went through the Dave Ramsey program and worked on tightening up our finances and getting more secure. This resulted in finally doing a budget that pointed out a lack of the amount of money I'd like to spend on nerd stuff. However, I've been fortunate to get quite a bit through gifts or selling stuff so I'm not really left wanting for much, but I'd always like more.

The major issue I've had is time. Last year I applied, was accepted and began grad school. A major achievement, but on top of a full-time job and family, I'll give you three guesses what gets cut when it comes to things I get to spend my time on--that's right, nerdin'. Maybe this is why I've gravitated back into action figure collecting. It's a hobby that I can somewhat passively participate in. I don't need two hours to sit and watch and action figure like I do a movie.

And if that's not enough, I've really cut back on my eating. Not that you'd know it looking at the CT's Hossin' Logs I recently posted on the Facebook, but in the past few months, I've really cut back on the eating. It's possible that has come about as a domino effect of my other self-improvements...a result of stress from the workload or just budgeting less meals out and the purchase of fewer snacks.

So as I look ahead to 2010, I wonder what I'll have to say on this blog. I don't spend the money or time on this stuff nearly as much as I'd like. And I guess that's sort of the premise of the blog. I'm not alone in this. All three of us are in similar situations when it comes to time and money. That aside, I don't know what I'm going to say on this blog, but I'm going to think of something to say. Nerdin' and this blog are a great outlet and as my limitations increase, I'll come up with ways around them. I'll have to.

And I can tell you that two of those ways will be through using shorter messages via the Twitter and the Facebook. So look for us in those venues for the complete Nerd Lunch Collection.

With so much on my plate already, I don't intend to take on more for 2010, I just hope to try to do it all a little bit better. What are your plans for the New Year? Any big plans to better yourself? Any great plans for your own nerdin'? Let us know. We'd love to hear from you.
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