Month: June 2016

CONvergence 2016: Kristen’s Take

CONvergence 2016: Kristen’s Take

We’re back from day one of CONvergence! I’ve been fighting a bit of a cold since yesterday evening (how did I get con crud before attending any of the actual con?? Seems unfair…), but on the other hand, I had what was definitely my favorite…

CONvergence 2016

CONvergence 2016

We are talking about a little nerdy culture today. You might be thinking, where are my comic book hero roster update (and isn’t this slightly late). For the first one, coming back next week. For the second part, moving is a lot of fun, but…

Comic Books – Marvel: Meeting the Line-Up (part 1)

Comic Books – Marvel: Meeting the Line-Up (part 1)

Getting back on the comic book train, there is a need to talk about the big producers of comic books. With that I’m going to write up one on Marvel and an article on DC. These two have been the heavyweights in the comic book industry producing so many of the characters that you know and love.

Meeting the Line-Up

Comic books all have their certain heroes and villains that everyone knows and cares about more than others, so let’s meet the line-up for Marvel.

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Captain America: Cap is the icon of America. He was originally create to drive that American spirit and go after Hitler. When Cap was created it was actually just prior to the involvement of the US of A in World War II. The big story element of Captain America was that he was a super soldier, a soldier modified to be bigger and stronger than anyone else, but originally he was the little guy. He was a scrawny kid from Brooklyn who couldn’t even get into the army if he tried, but because of his heart and never die attitude, he was selected for the super soldier program. The other big element of Captain America is that he was the man forgotten in time. He was lost at the end of the war and frozen in the Arctic Ocean, and only after a long time was he revived again.

Iron Man: Son of the brilliant Howard Stark, Tony Stark had everything that he wanted growing up and was a genius himself. However, he was captured by a militant group and ordered to build weapons. He didn’t do this, however, as he built himself a suit that had weapons and was powered and broke free and Iron Man was born. Iron Man has then evolved into many different suits that Tony Stark wears. In my opinion, the most interesting about Iron Man is Tony Stark. Stark is a playboy type of personality who struggles with actual issues. He has struggled with drinking throughout the comics. To go along with that, he knows that some of the technology that he and his father have created have caused destruction, and he wants to atone for that. He generally has his heart in the right place when he comes up with ideas, but his brain doesn’t allow him to see potential issues that could come from what he does. He is the solution to and the cause of so many problems in the Marvel universe.

Image Source: Comic Book Resources
Image Source: Comic Book Resources

Spider-Man: Spider-Man is just an ordinary nerdy high school student. He is smart, but not popular and definitely not who he really wants to be. One day, he gets bitten by a radio active spider and becomes Spider-Man. He doesn’t use his powers for good, immediately, but only once his Uncle Ben is killed by a robber he could have stopped does he start using his powers for justice. Spider-Man generally is the character that has the one-liners and can’t really get out of his own way while talking. But he has some seriously tragic story arcs as well. Spider-Man has some of the best villains as well, fighting against the Sinister Six, The Kingpin, and many other memorable villains. In a general classification, I would say that Spider-Man for a long time was how Marvel dealt with characters coming of age, and looking at someone who wanted to be greater, but knew the risk of people knowing who he was.

Thor: The God of Thunder is bit of a departure from the rest of the characters in that he wasn’t man-made. He is the Norse god, not coming from the mortal realm, just instead visiting it. Instead of being an overpowered super-human who has few weaknesses, he deals with the struggles of Asgard, the tricks of Loki, and his desire to help the humans when he doesn’t completely understand them. Thor’s stories also bring magic into the world with the tricks of Loki and the Enchantress who use their magic to try and take over the world or Asgard time and time again.

Image Source: Cover Browser
Image Source: Cover Browser

The Hulk: Possibly the most tragic character in the Marvel universe is Bruce Banner, or The Hulk, blasted with gamma radiation while saving someone else, he turned into Jekyll and Hyde. The mild mannered Bruce Banner had to try and control a raging monster that he wasn’t sure could be controlled. The Hulk is at times the greatest strength of the Avengers and at other times the greatest threat. The balance of risk and reward were often too difficult for Bruce Banner to deal with and he’d run away, only to find himself in a spot where he was needed, but not only him, but also the Hulk. He fights against himself, and also against those who want to create more like him in the comics.

That is part one of what is likely to be a lot of different parts as we delve into the rosters of both Marvel and DC, starting with the better known characters and eventually ending up with lesser known, but equally as interesting characters. I hope you’ve enjoyed it thus far. Who is your favorite member of the Marvel universe?

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Feeding Your Inner Nerd

Feeding Your Inner Nerd

Contrary to what you might think this post is actually going to be about food. To go along with brewing beer, I really like to cook (not bake but cook). And cooking is something that I can nerd out about easily, put me in a…

Dungeons And Flagons Episode 29: Help From An Unexpected Source

Dungeons And Flagons Episode 29: Help From An Unexpected Source

The wagon train offers the adventuring party some time to recover from the trials of the desert and offer them help in crossing the swamp, but some adventure might still be had from these travelers. If you have questions for Nerdologists: Dungeons and Flagons emails…

Nerding from the Garbage Heap: Loving Things that Suck

Nerding from the Garbage Heap: Loving Things that Suck

Hey, y’all! So, today feels like a good day to talk about something I’ve had rolling around in my brain for a while. Or rather, it feels like a good day to get it out in the open (and out of my system already!). It’s a concept I think most of us nerds have grappled with, or at least run across. And while I suspect it could (gasp!) spark a little controversy, I hope will inspire some good discussion!

In short, it comes down to this: What happens when you like a story, a movie, a book, or other nerdy thing that you know is bad? By “bad,” I mean any of the following — poorly written, super cheesy or over-the-top, garishly low-budget, filled with flat characters, or even problematic from a humanist perspective. It’s anything that got slashed to pieces by critics, anything that causes people to scoff (or cringe) whenever it’s mentioned.

This is a complex topic, and one I have no hope of covering in a blog post, but for now, I just want to get you thinking — mostly because, as much as I’ve thought about this myself lately, I haven’t reached as definitive a conclusion as I’d like. So what do you do when there’s something you love but no one else can understand why? How do you handle it when you can see all the flaws in the form, but love the thing in spite of them?

Image Credit: iO9
Image Credit: iO9

Let me share a couple of examples. Peder and I both have our own objectively crappy things that we love, despite their manifold failings. For Peder, it’s B movies like Repo! The Genetic Opera and Big Trouble in Little China. And for me, it’s a certain brand of fluffy, horribly written romances that do the trick — not so much the Harlequin romance types; instead, things like Hallmark original movies, foofy YA first-love stories…and yes, of all things, the Twilight Saga (I know, I KNOW, you guys; whatever you’re thinking, I’ve already thought it, I promise).

Image Credit: RogerEbert.com
Image Credit: RogerEbert.com

In talking about our respective craptastic affinities, Peder and I have found that there’s a key thing that makes you love something that sucks — whatever else its failings may be, there’s something in that story that rings true to you, or speaks to you in a way that, for whatever reason, nothing else can. Peder tells me that to him, the great thing about B movies is that they’re just sheer, unbridled escapism. They’re so absurd that they could never, ever happen in real life — and that’s what makes them so much fun. The painfully cheesy special effects and ridiculous dialogue just add to the sweet, sweet escapist scenarios. And for me, cheesy romance stories speak to that simple, fundamental desire all of us humans have — to be loved. They speak to it in a such raw, unembarrassed way and I find it totally intoxicating. Whatever problems Twilight has (and boy howdy, you guys, there are SO MANY OF THEMMM), that story in particular somehow manages to speak to that desire in a way that rings true to me, in a way that’s so stark and arresting that I can’t help but see it shining (sparkling??) there, deep (DEEP) down at the heart of the story.

I think the main thing that makes this sort of nerdy love so difficult is pretty simple — embarrassment. I mean, think about it — how many things did you love when you were a kid until you found out somebody else didn’t think it was cool, and you suddenly stopped liking it (or at least hid your love for it)? And how much has that emotion followed you through your life, making you feel like you should only like things that others around you think are acceptable? And when you get right down to it, isn’t this concept what nerddom is all about? At its heart, it’s that genuine, unabashed love for things that most others turn up their nose at for being too cheesy, too obscure, too weird, too whatever.

So let’s ask this — what if we went full-throttle and allowed ourselves to like what we like, regardless of what people think or don’t think about it? What kind of power would that give us?

Maybe not much to speak of. But maybe a lot. So far, I’ve decided that the key here is awareness. Be aware of all the reasons why the story in question is crappy (especially if it comes to that humanist thing I mentioned earlier — and that’s all I’ll say about that, because that could be a whole other blog post). Knowing all the reasons to dislike something doesn’t mean you have to dislike it yourself — it just helps you pinpoint what it is you do like about it. And with that knowledge, you can responsibly love that silly, cheesy, weirdsauce, crappy thing with reckless abandon. And you don’t have to care who knows it.

Phew. We got a little deep here, guys…thanks for bearing with me for so long! To cap off this madcap blog post, let’s hear from you — what crappy thing do you love, and how does it manage to be great amid its crappiness?

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Comics: The Heroes that We Love

Comics: The Heroes that We Love

Comics are an iconic nerdy activity. Reading the stories of Superman and Spider-Man and waiting for the next issue to come out is quite the image that we can place in our mind. But now that superheroes are becoming more mainstream, we have movies coming…

When Aliens Attack: Independence Day Resurgence

When Aliens Attack: Independence Day Resurgence

  I realize that this isn’t a great film by any means, but it is one of those summer films that I really like. The action is fun, the plot holds together just well enough to keep it being entertaining. I’m very interested to watch…