Nerd Lunch Podcast 74: Nerd Lunch Party

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Jeeg makes his much anticipated return (whatever) to the show to talk party food with CT and guest Jasmin Fine from 1FineCookie.com. After getting the 411 on 1 Fine Cookie and debunking the rumor that Jasmin is related to Fran Drescher, we put together a nerd party with themed versions of our favorite appetizers / finger foods. And really what would a party be without snacks based on The Walking Dead, Mork & Mindy, or Buffy? This week's Nerd To-Dos feature a nerd's quest to live without a TV, Pie Day celebration plans, and the BBC show Ashes to Ashes.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 73: Pirates of the Caribbean Drill Down

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Cap'n CT and first mate Paxton Holley are joined by Long Jay Silver from the Sexy Armpit and the Dread Pirate Robert from To The Escpae Hatch to talk about the four Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They swab the deck on the cast, story, effects, what was good and where things went wrong. In the Nerd To Dos, the long lost treasure of Jumpin' Jack Doritos has finally been found. Also, what is the demand on a Twitter handle named "zerbert"?

Speedy Delivery!

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Tallahassee hosts a "Kidsfest" event every year. In my time living here, I've only attended one. But I have to assume it was the best one ever.

My wife was there manning a booth, but I went as well and walked around with my then threeish year old daughter. There were lots of games and food and other activities, but I really can't remember much about anything other than one booth in particular. WFSU, the local PBS affiliate, had a booth and the highlight of this booth was none other than a guy by the name of David Newell.

Unless you're Tim Lybarger (our Fourth Chair guest on episode 72 of the podcast), you might not know that name immediately so I'll tell you who that is (as if the photo doesn't give it away). David Newell played the part of Mr. McFeely on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

I had no idea that Mr. McFeely himself would be there and I was taken aback by his presence. Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood has not been something my daughter has had the opportunity to view very much in her lifetime, so seeing Mr. McFeely meant nothing to her. And she was only threeish at the time and my excited explanations were completely lost on her. Despite that, I felt she needed an autographed picture if for no other reason than I wanted to talk to him.

By no means have I met tons of stars, but I have had the chance to meet a few at conventions and the like throughout my life. In fact, I've talked about a few of those stars I've met before. None of them compare to meeting Mr. McFeely. He knew who his audience was and instantly knew that I was there not so much for my daughter, but for me. He signed photos for both of us and then before I could walk away, he asked me how I was doing. It was a bit surreal, but there was this sense that he genuinely cared about how "his kids" turned out. He wanted to know what my job was and then even gave me his business card before I walked away. There was an odd sense of familiarity about the exchange. It was like I was meeting an old friend of my dad's that I hadn't seen since I was 7.

Suddenly I wondered...all those times he and Mr. Rogers would look out at the viewers and talk to us, could they actually see us? Were they really talking to us? And did he really remember me from when I watched all those years ago?

Grown up-CT knows that's not possible, but right then and there, for a few seconds, I was five years old again and believed that he did.

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Nerd Lunch Podcast 72: Kid's TV Shows

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Once again Jeegless, this week Pax and CT are joined by Tim Lybarger of the Neighborhood Archive.  Tim is here to discuss live-action kids' TV shows.  We discuss our favorites and our not-so favorites.  Some of the shows discussed include Sesame Street, Electric Company, Mr Rogers, Reading Rainbow, 3-2-1 Contact and many, many more.  Nerd To Dos include Eerie Indiana, Red Dwarf, The Hobbit, Ted and Ghost Writer.

Ensign Rusty: The Next Generation

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Our recent discussion of Ensign Rusty and the strange fate of 23rd century sanitation officers has led me to ponder some of the other oddities of the Star Trek job front.  Ponder with me, readers.

Waiters OF THE FUTURE.  Particularly by the TNG era, we are led to understand that at least within the heart of the Federation, it's a post-scarcity utopian society.  Humanity's basic needs are met, everyone enjoys vigorous good health and lives to be 120, everyone has evolved past basic material greed, and we are each free to chart our own destiny, follow our bliss, etc.  So why is this jackass serving drinks?  I would guess that 90% of our readers immediately recognize Ben, the friendly Ten-Forward waiter from the TNG episode "Lower Decks."  Understand that on a starship, you are never more than 100 feet from a thing on the wall that can instantly make any sort of food or beverage you want, and all you have to do is ask.  There is no need for an additional sentient life form to act as middleman --- taking your order, walking it over to the replicator, placing the order, walking it to your table.  Ben does not do this for the money, because there is no money.  A hologram could do the job.  The only answer is that in the future, some people realize that they genuinely enjoy being space-waiters.  Maybe it's something you do for a year or two just for the life experience, and the chance to see the galaxy . . . but maybe some people find fulfillment in this life of service.

Science Officer (TNG Era).    There was a bit of reshuffling of job assignments between TOS and TNG . . . we lost the communications officer (i.e., receptionist) and navigator (i.e., guy who sits next to guy who flies the ship), and that can be chalked up to technological advances.  But Science Officer used to be an extremely important gig, back in the days of Spock, and you'd think that on a ship like the Enterprise-D, it would still be a full-time gig to coordinate the activities of at least 100-200 Starfleet and civilian scientists, doing all manner of scientific science.  But if there's a Chief Science Officer on that ship, we never heard about it.  I have seen some non-canon suggestions that this was one of Data's assignments, along with Operations Manager / Second Officer / Cat Herder,  and I've also read that they just decided Data didn't look good in Science Officer blue.  We know that the Stellar Sciences department is headed up by a Lt. Commander (at least at one point), so presumably there are some other similarly high-ranking science types on board, but not once did any of them sit in on a senior staff meeting . . . I guess the robot had it covered.  Pretty insulting, though, if you're the head of astrophysics, and there's some crazy rift in space-time, and no one from the bridge ever calls because it's cool, the robot will handle it.  I like to think that the lack of oversight means that there was some obscure subdepartment --- Mycology or some such --- that was just two guys who reported to no one, and realized that no one was ever going to need their input on anything, and just went to their lab and drank all day.

Operations Manager.  Speaking of Data . . . if you watch him and Harry Kim, you can piece together that "Operations Manager" is a bridge position that handles a variety of duties:   "rerouting power," a little communications, a little sensors stuff . . . general technobabble.  What I've been wondering is if this is really a "Department Head" position like Chief Engineer, Chief of Security, etc.  It didn't seem to be a supervisory role, notwithstanding the "manager."  It would make sense to have someone supervise the more computery stuff, while Engineering concentrated on the ship as a whole and the engines.  But instead of the giving the robot more work, they had the blind guy do everything.  This is why Geordi never had a girlfriend.  I always enjoyed the "Data in command" bits, and the hints that Data was, in his own way, an ambitious being, or at least that he expected to be treated like a high-ranking officer and not just a useful tool.  Giving Data some "direct reports" and watching him struggle with leadership/management would've made for some interesting viewing.

Security Chief (TOS Era).  Why did Kirk lose all those redshirts?  Lack of leadership.  I think there may have been a couple of passing references to someone being "Chief of Security" on TOS, but this presumably important job was only one small step above Ensign Rusty in terms of screen time.  My sense is that this has become a favorite gig for Mary Sue characters in fan fiction . . . in fact, as a youngster, I read a pretty cool Trek novel called "The Entropy Effect" which focused on a wonderfully Mary Sueish new security chief, Lt. Com. Mandala Flynn, who had an elaborate backstory and made sweet interstellar love to Sulu, with many a paragraph devoted to his lithe, compact body and his Fu Manchu mustache.  Yeah, Sulu grew a 'stache, and I think this is where he was first named Hikuru, and he got promoted at the end.  Anyway, I guess they eventually decided this would give Chekov something to do.    

Guy Who Milks the Schplict.  We are not big Voyager fans on this blog.  We're not angry, just disappointed.  Back in my college days, I gave it a shot, and thrilled as Neelix almost doomed them all by making his own cheese, which infected the biogel packs, and then we used science, etc.  It was just a throwaway line that he used milk from the schplict, but we immediately realized the implication:  somebody's got to milk the schpict.  "Milking the schplict" became a wonderful euphemism for us, representing all manner of private bodily functions, as well as indicating that the speaker was going to undertake an undesirable task.  I imagine the schplict was some sort of horrible lactating caterpillar-lizard that made a disturbing moan when milked.       

Nerd Lunch Podcast 71: It's a Re-Do of Star Trek: Voyager

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The Nerd Lunchers return to their own take on an Atomic Geek franchise topic. Once again re-doing a TV show, they pick the oft-maligned Star Trek: Voyager. Joined by Twitter pal of Jeri Ryan, Rob Graham, the premise, cast, writers, and designs get torn apart and put back together again in a much more satisfying way. In the Nerd To-Dos, more discussion of Star Trek takes place as well as the elusive Jumpin' Jack Doritos.

Rejection

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I've brought up more than a few times before on both the blog and podcast that I interned at Marvel Comics back in 1998. Upon completing that internship, I graduated from college and a few weeks later got married. Afterward, I began looking for my first job. With that Marvel internship now sitting on my résumé, I thought for sure I could do anything. However, it had not yet merited me much in spite of three attempts to land a full-time job at Marvel during my internship. That didn't stop me from trying with DC Comics though. Being more of a DC kid growing up, I figured I might have a better shot there anyway. Plus, the executive editor there was Mike Carlin, a guy who's last name is the same as my first. I thought targeting him might pay off in some way. I had met him at a convention before and he seemed to get a kick out of that fact. Maybe he'd be up for having me around as a sidekick.

After inquiring at some point in July, an early August afternoon in 1998, this thing was dropped in my mailbox. Letters aren't a good sign, but still, that giant blue DC bullet was exciting to see. And the slightly personalized writing on the outside was a nice touch.


Unfolding the letter found on the inside revealed a stack of seven super heroes standing on each others shoulders. At a quick glance, this was odd. Also the character choice was a bit odd. Superman, Flash, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman made sense. Icon sort of did in that DC really was trying to push that Milestone line at the time. But Plastic Man seemed out of place because in 1998 he really wasn't doing anything.


I flipped over the letter to reveal the meat. It was a well-written message letting me know that it was appreciated that I applied but there are a lot of people who want in at DC so don't get too hopeful. What was cool about this, was that even though this was probably a standard letter, I still got a personalized PS. "Nice name at least!"


Regardless of your feelings about the character selection, this is some of the coolest letterhead of all time. Hold it up to the light to reveal that the characters on the back are holding up the DC bullet at the top of the front.


It's probably no surprise for you to learn that I was never contacted by DC Comics again. I don't know why and it doesn't really matter. I've come to believe, 15 years later, that this not working out was for the best. I won't go through all the reasons I think that, but there are several things that make me believe it would have been bad to be there. I also would have missed out on several good things that occurred on the path that I did go down.

As Conan O'Brien once said, "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get." That's true. Throughout life, we are constantly faced with disappointment and rejection. That's fine. To further quote Conan, "...I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come.  The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality."

Well said, Conan...well said. And what he forgot to mention is that sometimes, your disappointment and rejection comes on some pretty cool letterhead.
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