Let Your Geek Flag Fly

IGN recently published an article about the geekiest or most geek friendly areas on the country based upon certain facebook search criteria.  I know, not the most scientific method of research, but the results were pretty spot on from my experience.

I live in the South, and yes, it is difficult to find fellow geeks in the area and is somewhat a Geek Hell despite events like Dragon*con, Heroescon, AWA, and the admittedly many cons available throughout the region.  The rest of the year though? Very difficult – which probably heightens the con experience – with very few places like minded individuals can go to be themselves.

This being the case, how do you show solidarity with your fellow geeks? What do you do to mark yourself as one in the know to others in the know?

Personally, I rely on my graphic tee collection. I’ve made more friends and elicited more comments with my “Melty Welty, Timey Wimey” shirt – depicting a melting Police Call Box and Clocks in the style of Dali – from teefury than anything ever. Close second is “Warning: Inevitable Betrayal” featuring a T.Rex nomming on a certain class of space ship.

My friend and fellow contributor Richard literally has a flag pole to which he attaches the Federation flag, the White Tree of Gondor, or the Independents’ flag. (He also has some sports-ball related flags and a pirate flag…but we’ll only acknowledge the pirate flag)

Another buddy keeps it simple and understated with his +1 Bag of Holding and a smattering of graphic tees.

There are numerous options to fly your geek flag with cellphone cases, tees, bags, literal flags, and any of the myriad of geeky accessories you can find at cons. The best part is non-geeks probably won’t get the references and will just leave you be.

So, don’t be afraid, even if you’re in a Geek Hell area, fly your Geek Flag proudly and let your brothers and sisters know “YES, I AM HERE”

Just don’t whisper “Hail Hydra” to someone…they could take it badly. You do realize Hydra is the bad organization right? Outgrowth of Nazis? Not cool, people, not cool. Insidious meme.

Arcade Dreams

As someone that has played a lot of video games over the years I find myself missing something that used to be easy to find, a real arcade. Yes, I know there are plenty of places that still have rooms filled with state of the art video games, but I just don’t get the same enjoyment out of them anymore.  It may just be nostalgia setting in but more and more I miss the classic idea of the arcade.

The only establishment near where I live that could even be considered an arcade is the video game section at a “Franky’s Fun Park.”  I do have fun when I go there, but I don’t go there to play games, normally I’m there with friends to play mini-golf or one of the outdoor activities, and when I do play the games what I’m really thinking about is how expensive they have gotten, or the game’s only point is to win tickets.

Tickets have been a staple of the arcade since the beginning and I’ll admit I enjoy winning a long string of them (and the basic prizes are still as bad as ever) but the best prizes places have to offer are stuff you can just go buy for probably cheaper, unless you are good at always hitting the ticket jackpot.

Also when looking at the games I realize that I have better games at home now between my computer and consoles the only difference is the fancy peripherals.  Believe it or not, there was a time when if you wanted to truly play the best video games, you had to fill your pocket with quarters (so you could change them to tokens in some places) then go wait by your favorite cabinet and place a quarter on the controls marking your place in line.

Again, maybe it’s just nostalgia glasses, or maybe because I’m actually spending my own money now at the arcade over my parents but I just miss the places I grew up with.

The best local arcade I had I never truly appreciated it because I was too young and it’s been closed for 20+ years now, and the mall it was in was torn down years ago.  The room was dark using game cabinets for most of the light, it always felt like there were way to many cabinets crammed into the small space and there was a great blend of game sounds and music. It was the stereotypical mid to late 80’s arcade.

The second arcade I had locally, well it was a place called “Showbiz Pizza.” It was exactly what it sounds like an early version of “Chuck. E Cheese’s.”  Full of cheep and probably bad pizza and bad animatronics, but you didn’t go for that we would go for the room full of games.  This is where I started to really understand games and what an arcade should be like.  The legend of shooting the dog in “Duck Hunt,” done it, the cabinet we had was just old enough to not have that feature taken out, I’ve actually seen the dog limp out on crutches more than once.  Spent a lot of money in that place, went to many birthday parties there, but it was still gone[i] well before I reached the age of 10.

The third place was the one I spent the most time and money in and is probably the one I miss the most.  “Putt-Putt Golf and Games,” it wasn’t the best place, but it was the closest to my small home town.  This was right around the time arcades reached their peak, the old-guard of games like “Galaga” and “Pac-Man” were still around and busy, but a new wave of games had arrived “X-Men,” “The Simpsons”, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”  These games would go on to be some of the most popular to ever hit the arcades.  These cabinets could support 4 to 6 players, the music and sounds were stereo quality and had a level of quality home consoles just couldn’t match.  This was also the same time tournament fighters began to rise.  In my one little arcade within a span of just a few feet you had three games I’ve already mentioned plus “Mortal Kombat” and “Street Fighter II.”

“Putt-Putt” would be my go-to place for years, but eventually I grew up and the little place could no longer keep up.  The games we spent hours had finally given up and shut down, the little arcade couldn’t get top of the line stuff anymore, and the children that did visit weren’t impressed anymore and eventually the arcade closed it doors.

It’s not a coincidence that arcades started dying off right as the Playstation 2 and X-box reached the peak of their popularity.  Game companies had shifted their focus to home based games with 20+hours of game play, instead of two-hour side-scrollers.  Leaving arcades needing more than just games, leading to fun parks with batting cages, mini-golf and go-karts.

The next time you are in an arcade if you hear someone over 30 complain about missing old style arcades, we aren’t being old and grumpy, they truly aren’t the same anymore.  Arcades are not supposed to be about making a fast moving light stop in just the right place to win tickets.  Its about spending hours with your friends and a pile of quarters trying to prove you can make it to the last level.

If you need an example of what we are talking about just Google “Flynn’s Arcade.”

Oh, and if you happen to find an old arcade still hanging on out in the world with a working “Ninja Turtles,” put a quarter on the cabinet next to Raphael’s controller for me.  I have some unfinished business to take care of.


[i] “Showbiz Pizza Place” went through a corporate restructure and rebranding into “Chuck E Cheese’s” around 1990.  The place we used to go is actually still open in the original building, but once the rebranding began it wasn’t the same and we quit going.

Sci-fi, YA?

Have you watched The 100? I hadn’t either. I hadn’t even heard about it until

Excerpt from @WilliamShatner twitter feed. He's a big fan.

Excerpt from @WilliamShatner twitter feed. He’s a big fan.

Captain Kirk told me of its existence via the twitters.

It’s actually not bad.  Based on the first episode, it’s a respectible sci-fi adventure.  Parts of it I do find to be really obnoxious, but I chalk that up to the fact that I’m not the target audience. It airs on the CW, so of course the target audience is about half my age, and for that, the show is fantastic.

Read on

xXx

xXx (2002) starring Vin Diesel and directed by Rob Cohen. I’ll spare you the recap. I liked it up until the midpoint. It’s a goofy, but fun action flick. As with most of Diesel’s roles, Xander is BA but has a sense of humor about him and he plays the role with a __-eating-grin on his face. The film entertains with Sammy L as a pre-Nick Fury head of a secret organization missing one eye and Marton Csokas (you may know him from Aeon Flux) delivers a great performance as the villain, both providing larger than life foils for Diesel. It tries to be an X-treme Sports James Bond, with over-blown villains (complete with henchmen, secret lairs, and world ending devices) and gadgets like the x-ray binoculars, which while fun, waters down the earlier feel of the film. It then falls apart after Xander is ‘discovered’ to be an agent and Yelena is forced to go back in, twice.

Two high points in the film: The zither playing the score from The Third Man (1949) when we get to Prague. Side note: Watch The Third Man, one of the best film noirs ever made, and its impact on cinema has been astounding.  The second coming in the opera where Sammy completely plays X.

Watch if you have a notion and like Vin. I went 12 years without seeing it, could have gone longer.

Spoilers

I miss appointment TV, mostly because you don’t have to worry about spoilers. Seriously.  I love talking about things I’ve watched really shortly after I have seen them.  While the event is still fresh in my mind, while the excitement of it still makes me giddy, while whatever it is I’ve watched still has my mind reeling and hungering for MORE. Read on