So I spent all last week at the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas and can highly recommend it as an experience. It was totally fun and cool with a lot of extremely nice fans and amazing costumes. While there I saw several variations on the t-shirt “Everything I Know in Life I Learned from Star Trek.” For the most part they are filled with noble thoughts like “Non Interference is the Prime Directive” and “Seek Out New Life and New Civilizations.” I appreciate the nobility of these sentiments and wish I could have picked them up as a child.
However, the issue here is that these concepts are really more the lessons my parents and teachers really would have hoped I could have learned from the show. They are the the 70’s equivalent of wishing your child would play peacefully with his or her stuffed animals and not use them as a club to bludgeon the child next to them with. This is not how we learn lessons, unfortunately. Not the lessons that are ingrained into our psyche. Those lessons are always learned from pain and stupidity, either experienced or observed.
What do I mean by that? The lessons most strongly remembered are the ones where you feel the need to put your hand in a fire and learn the hard way that that is a stupid thing. If a child has a natural inclination to lick power outlets and does so, assuming he survives that is a lesson he or she will never, ever forget (as an aside, I do recommend parents all baby proof their houses. If you have a more Darwinian approach to parenting (like my own parents did) I’m sure your surviving children will reach adulthood with some important life lessons imparted upon them).
Thus we come to Star Trek. Most of the episodes might have had an esoteric lesson on non interference and peaceful contact with aliens, but they were all pretty hard for me to grasp at age 7. What was easy for me to understand was the 1-6 horrible Red Shirt deaths in each episode (Ensign Riley image courtesy of the Television T Shirt category). What, then, are the hard core lessons ingrained into my very fiber from this show? Here are a few:
1. There is no kill setting strong enough for my phaser.
2. If you are ever told to guard a corridor/door/cell/alien/robot by yourself or with just another hapless minion immediately request backup. Never do anything by yourself.
3. While on guard duty of any kind keep your back against a wall and your eyes on the creature/doorway you are supposed to be guarding.
4. It is never too early on an away mission to “accidentally” sprain your ankle and be ordered to report to sick bay.
5. If you spot something unusual duck behind cover BEFORE yelling out your report (or using your communicator).
6. Never volunteer for anything.
7. Any normal seeming job given to you by your superiors while they stand around watching should be approached with extreme caution.
8. Any creature that can be completely and accurately described with a noun followed by the word “monster” should be considered extremely dangerous (lava monster, tar monster, sucker monster, etc.). Remember lesson number 1.
9. If an alien seems surprisingly confident when faced with your phaser, force field, or otherwise seemingly superior advantage take a few steps backward.
10. In a group never be the first or last man to do anything.
11. If an alien tells you to stand in a certain place a moderate distance from the rest of the group consider just punching him.
12. Try to never leave the ship.
13. If given orders that almost certainly lead to your horrible death remember that mutiny and fragging are always options. I think you will find the captain goes down to a phaser blast a lot faster than a blood sucking gas cloud.
14. If you get back from an away mission and you even have the sniffles immediately see a doctor.
15. If any of your friends are ever possessed by evil murdering aliens it might be necessary to beam them out into open space.
16. It might be worthwhile to keep a backup phaser in your boot.
17. If an alien looks like it can kill you, assume it not only can but seriously wants to. Remember lesson number 1.
18. If you are ever being chased by giant alien creatures remember you don’t really have to outrun them. Just the slowest other red shirt.
19. If you are ever ordered to collect some kind of sample remember that modest scientific advancement is not really worth your life. Find a nice rock wall to lean against and “lose” your collection equipment at the first opportunity.
20. If any creatures, human or otherwise, are acting strange, speaking slowly, and not really answering any of your questions do not let them come within reach of you. Also remember lesson 1.
I think you will find that these lessons, in addition to being more deeply ingrained than the noble ones espoused by the more enlightened Star Trek fans, will also have many more useful short and long term applications in your day to day life. I’m not saying to give up on the high value ones from the intellectual part of the show. Just that these may be much more useful on a personal basis.
Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twiiter @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments or questions on this piece post them here. Off topic questions or suggestions for other articles can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll watch something tonight and review it tomorrow morning. Talk to you soon.
So Harry Morgan died today at the age of 96. This is actually really sad for me, as I watched a lot of M.A.S.H. as a kid. I loved that show. Honestly, I can’t put my finger on why, as I was always more into military shows with more actual combat. At first I just liked it because it was about the Army, but as I got older I really got into the characters and the horrific situation they were in. Shows where they were doing endless hours working on horrifically injured men, surrounded by blood and gore, really spoke to me. I won’t get into the details of my miserable childhood, but something about those guys somehow in my childhood mind spoke to the daily grind of dealing with all the jackasses who I went to school with and who dared to call themselves my peers (when they weren’t kicking my ass), as well as some other stuff having to do with my family. (M.A.S.H. 4077th image courtesy of the Television T Shirt category)
Anyway, I loved all the characters. Radar was always my favorite, but honestly I like Col. Potter the next most. He was the father figure I always wished I had, tough but fair. I like his aspect as a career officer, and enjoyed him most when he was yelling at people. Honestly, I never missed Henry Blake much when he left, or for that matter Trapper John. The best shows were with BJ, Col. Potter, and Radar.
So this show was a big part of my childhood. Not on the level of Star Trek, which was about the life and friends I wished I had had, but rather about the life and friends I actually had. Harry Morgan was always great. In addition to M.A.S.H., he starred on Dragnet, the great Third Rock from the Sun, an episode of Twilight Zone, the Jeff Foxworthy Show, and a bunch of parts on shows like the Simpsons and the Love Boat. He did make the mistake of starring in the ill fated After Mash, but I forgive him for that for all the years of fun he has given me.
So he passed. I am glad he lived to the grand old age of 96, and will miss him.
Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. I’m headed to LA to hang out with a bunch of my old college friends this weekend. I will try to get a post or two up, especially if I can see some of the movies coming out this weekend. Talk to you soon.
So it’s been kind of hell for the last few weeks, with the show and the move and all sorts of other stuff piling up like you wouldn’t believe, so I decided what I needed to do was unwind a little with a movie that would make me laugh. I have heard a lot about Your Highness on the Howard Stern Show and figured it would probably fit the bill, so I called a friend and we hit the theater.
The movie did not disappoint at all. I laughed my ass off continuously. Really funny and well written.
The story is of Thadius, the libertine nere-do-well younger son of the king (played by Danny McBride of Eastbound and Down. EB&D image courtesy of the television t shirt category) who spends his time drinking, whoring, and getting high and his older brother Fabius (played by Hollywood pretty boy James Franco) who is brave, noble, and in all ways a better than Thadius. Fabius has his bride kidnapped by an evil warlock name Leezar who plans to impregnate her with a dragon. In order to kill Leezar they need to find a magic sword. Along the way they are joined by the majorly hot Natalie Portman (her screen name is Isabel, but I have a hard time paying attention to the details whenever she is on the screen, if you know what I mean). Medieval(-ish) adventure hijinx ensue. Monsters are killed, Thadius comes to grips with his manhood (in more than one way), and a feast of fish sticks is consumed. The script is rife with sleazy puns and double entendres that all seem hilarious in spite of being incredibly juvenile.
First the stars. The movie is hilarious. Two stars. Natalie Portman. One star. Natalie Portman showing a thong rear shot. Two stars (although I heard an ugly rumor that they used a body double for this, in which case reduce it to one star). Every single character, even superstar pretty boy Fabius, is funny and engaging. One star. Leezar is great as a super villain. One star. A couple scenes with some extremely gratuitous nudity. One star. Overall extremely well written. One star. Total: nine stars.
Now the black holes. Kind of mediocre special effects and CGI (although really, you shouldn’t be here for these things). One black hole. The humor overall is really funny, but after a while it feels like they are beating the homoerotic jokes into the ground. One black hole. I really could have done without the whole minotaur genitalia running joke. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
So a grand total of six black holes, which is a very good score from me for a comedy. This movie is a great second or third date movie, as it will get her thinking about sex without you looking like a total pervert. I think you should definitely see it in a theater if you can, but this movie will also be a great addition to a DvD movie collection as it is exactly the thing to watch if you just want to throw something funny on that doesn’t require a lot of thought.
That’s it. Short this week but I still have about a million hours of work to do. I’ll try to stretch things out tomorrow.
Ok, back on the dating advice. I am sure this will make Gina happy. More tips that you may be dating a psychopath.
9. She is now, or has been, a member of some kind of cult, new age therapy group, or other kind of weird spiritual experience. Does she talk about channeling her chakras? Has she ever lived on some kind of commune? Does she seem to have an inordinate abundance of crystals around her place? Does she have a moon tattoo prominently displayed somewhere? Do discussions of animal and human sacrifices not repulse her? Then she is very likely to be a bizarre cult girl, and unfortunately this is a subject matter I am far too intimately familiar with. Basically, you will never not disappoint this girl, and she will be forever wishing you could better improve your spiritual self. Even if she is no longer in whatever she has been doing, odds are her personality will compel her to get into something else. Also, there is a good chance you will get sucked into it and end up dancing naked under a full moon and bathing in chicken blood.
10. Is she a strong advocate of one of the third parties? I don’t have a real issue with people who want to vote third party, but if she is gung ho for the Tea Party, Green Party, or Libertarian Party that believe me when I say dating her will be anything but a party. These people tend to really believe in what they say and if you don’t agree with them then that must mean you don’t understand and the only cure is to be lectured at continuously. If you make the mistake of agreeing with her (most likely in the vain hope that she will shut up about it) than you can look forward to being dragged to political rallies surrounded by other members of her party of choice who also want to lecture you continuously on the fine points of their party manifesto.
11. Is she a hard core born again Christian? This one depends on your perspective. If you are also a born again Christian than you can disregard this paragraph. If you are not but think you can get past it, prepare for disappointment. Christians are not a problem, but the really hard core true believers are nothing but headache. I don’t think I should get too into this, except to say I recently had an experience in this area that has reaffirmed my belief in this point.
12. Does she constantly ask you “What are you thinking?” Women naturally set traps, and this one is the tiger trap filled with punji sticks, scorpions, snakes, tigers, alligators, and burning napalm. Every woman will ask this question once in a while, but if she regurgitates this gem every time you look out into space like a dog returning to it’s own vomit it is a problem. There is never a good answer to this one. If you think fast and say something like “How great your smile is” than that will only encourage more of the same. If you tell the truth (Battlestar Galactica, if you locked your car, her breasts, the waitress’s breasts, who would win in a fight Deadpool or Punisher, or how best to get her alone at your place) than she will have the excuse she is looking for to be hurt. (BSG image courtesy of the television show t shirts)
By the way, if you are a girl reading this, if a guy really wanted to tell you what he was thinking, his lips would be moving. The answer to your question will either reek of insincerity or just really annoy you. Don’t flip over any rocks if you aren’t ready to deal with what you will find underneath.
This is the last part of the interview with Danny Nero. Danny has been a great sport and a super guy. Here he tells one of the best stories about a certain actor who played a certain captain in a show we all love (no, it’s not Shatner).
D: Any last funny or insightful stories from your career you would like to share?
Danny: It was just about a year ago I was working on a “cross-over” episode of Gray’s Anatomy & Private Practice at a different studio in Hollywood. It just so happened “Castle” is shot there and I wondered if I might bump into Nathan Fillion. I got wrapped early and decided I would find Nathan if they weren’t on location. When I caught sight of Nathan’s stand-in, a great guy by the name of Carey Johnson, I knew I was in luck.
I watched Nathan shoot a scene on a rooftop set with a green screen. I felt a little guilty that I’d never watched the show before but I don’t see most of what’s on TV these days. When he was finished with that shot, he came down and I surprised him. Big hug and he insisted on introducing me to the crew and cast which I didn’t know including the lovely Alyssa Milano. (Melrose Place image, which Alyssa stared in, courtesy of the television t shirt category)
He took me on a tour of his NYC apartment set and took great joy in showing me the infamous “catalyzer” from the “Out of Gas” episode of Firefly. It sits inside a bookcase. I pulled out my iPhone and reminded him that the last time we worked together on “Drive”, we both were intrigued by the news that Apple was going to have another hit on its hands. He saw that I didn’t have a case for mine so he had me follow him into his trailer and had me pick a new case from a selection on his desk. What a guy right?
D: That is so awesome. It makes me happy to know that the actor behind the character I love is such a great guy. Danny, thank you very, very much. I am sure our readers have really loved your stories and insights. I look forward to seeing you in future projects.
Before I get into the dating advice, I would like to mention that as of tomorrow morning I will be at the big Creation Entertainment triple show this weekend. The three shows are a Farscape convention, Stargate SG1 convention, and a Buffy/Firefly/Dollhouse convention all at the same time in the same hotel. As I am a rabid fan of all these shows (Firefly especially. Jayne Cobb image courtesy of the television show t shirt category) and also sell products from all these shows on my retail site, it is not only appropriate but pretty much required that I be there. If you are a reader of this blog and are near LAX this weekend be sure to stop by and say hi. I love getting in person feedback, and you may inspire a whole new post direction (especially if you are a single, intelligent, nerdish brunette girl between the ages of 29-39 with elfin features, if you know what I mean).
Anyway, let’s talk more about cheap dating. We’ve discussed how to avoid expensive stuff, how to eat, and how to not discuss your current financial situation, but we have yet to go into what to actually do while on your date. Here is the first of some great, cheap ideas.
I am giving you the best idea first, if only because it is a great date whether you have dough or not: hiking. Women love, love, love hiking. It is outdoors, typically with beautiful scenery, moderately physical without the danger of making you look like an out of shape couch potato, and costs little more than the gas to get to the trail and a decent pair of shoes. It is romantic, solitary, and a great time to talk to and get to know your date.
However, like everything else I present to you, it is not quite as simple as that. There are some thinks you need to do. Like we used to say in the Boy Scouts, Be Prepared (or as my friends from the Marine Corps more accurately put it, Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Words that I live by). The first thing you need to do is some basic research in finding a trail that is scenic yet not terribly taxing. There are any number of site out there to help you with this. I think Trails.com is pretty good, but look around. Things to consider are:
1. Trail length-pick a distance you are reasonably certain you can make. If you pass out from exhaustion 2 miles into the hike you will not really score any points with her. Also, odds are very good you will be passed out in the wilderness 2 or more miles from civilization with little to no cell phone coverage. If she has to get help for you or carry your sorry ass back you will never hear from her again.
2. Water-will it be present or will you have to hump a ton of it in? You should always bring water with you anyway but find out it it will be your little steel refillable water bottle or a freaking Sparklets jug.
3. Trail difficulty-some trails are like pleasant walks in the park (literally) while others can be like crossing the Alps without a Sherpa. Make sure there are no unpleasant surprises such as cliffs to climb up and down, log and rope bridges to fall off of, and inclines that seem like climbing up a fire escape for a million miles. Also be aware if there are any creeks or other water obstacles you need to cross on foot. Nothing worst than soaking wet sneakers and socks for the last 5 miles of your hike. Also note that just because the map says there is a creek or something there does not mean drinking water. Very little natural water is safe to drink. This should be obvious to most adults, but then I remember who I was speaking to for the most part and figured I had better be explicit.
4. Wildlife-squirrels, beavers, birds, badgers, raccoons, deer, and elk is a great thing to see while hiking. On the other hand, rattlesnakes, grizzly bears, bobcats, wolves, and mountain lions are incredibly bad to see, and by some mysterious coincidence both sets of animals seems to like to hang out in the same areas. If I have a single goal in life (besides conquest of the planet) it is to never end up as food for something at the end of my life. Also, while I would more or less not hesitate to leave any of my male friends behind as a distraction for whatever horrific denizen of the wild was currently mauling them, like most males if I had a woman with me my natural hormone levels and social training would overtake my common sense and survival instinct, leaving me wrestling with a grizzly while the girl I was probably just a few hours away from getting rejected by escaped to safety. Not that I’m bitter. (Incidentally, it has been my experience that, like there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no feminists when it comes to determining who gets to go Greco-Roman with a cougar and who gets to run to find more help). With these thoughts in mind, keep local wildlife at the forefront when picking your hiking path. Be aware, there is no wilderness area on this planet that doesn’t have something both capably and eager to kill you.
5. Check what hunting season it is, and wear something brightly colored (red, preferably). You don’t want to get killed by some hillbilly redneck for the sin of wearing a brown coat during deer season. Although it seems like most of them are drunk off their ass anyway, so if something vaguely human sized is in season maybe you need to look for an area where hunting is not permitted.
6. Finally, be sure to check the weather and dress/prepare accordingly. While the idea of a hike through a light summer shower might sound romantic, it is pretty common for those light summer showers to turn into torrential downpours pretty easily and make your trip miserable. If the heat will be higher than high 80’s bring extra water and/or just reschedule. Also, always bring sun block, sun glasses, and a hat of some kind. Don’t look like this is your first time off pavement, whether it is or not.
That’s pretty much it. Other than all the prep work and worry about something trying to kill you hiking is a great activity and makes for a wonderful date, followed up by that all important cheap ethnic meal later that night.
More activities next post.
You are on your date, you have dinner, you wow her with your wit and verve, and it turns out your next idea sucks and she suggests you go dancing. This is not so much a trap as a series of land mines, spiked tiger traps, and poison gas surrounded by a ring of fire.
There is no good answer to this suggestion. If you nay say the idea you are a boring stick in the mud. If you agree you have to have an idea where to go. Furthermore, at some point in the evening you will have to actually be seen dancing, and for most nerds that is about as bad as it gets.
I try to remain realistic in most things (aside from my delusion that I will one day rule the world). The fact is I dance like a 6’5″ slightly overweight white nerd. Do not delude yourself into thinking you are good at dancing. If you could dance you really wouldn’t need my help with women. Odds are extremely likely you dance like you are having a slow motion epileptic fit (or, worse, a full speed one).
I could advise you to look into taking dance lessons and even link you some site that would help you find them, but let’s face the facts. You aren’t going to do it, and even if you did I don’t know how much good it would do. You can’t build a skyscraper with Play Doh. If you don’t have the natural inclination and ability to dance you aren’t likely to improve dramatically. (Raver Spock image courtesy of the television t shirt category)
The most important thing to remember about dancing (and the only thing that will help you save your dignity and impress your date) is to have fun. This might sound nigh impossible, but one night a friend of mind dragged me to a club and told me to just dance and enjoy it. I did, had fun, and actually met a girl who kind of picked up on my fun vibe. If you dance like it is actually causing you pain she will most likely associate you not having fun dancing with not having fun with her and bail out.
Next post, in a hugely ironic turn of events, I will be giving specific dancing tips. Talk about the blind leading the blind.
This, by the way, is my 100th blog posting.
Since starting this list of things to talk about I have come up with a number of additional no-go topics. Stuff to really avoid in my opinion. I’ll do this post really quick to keep you out of trouble.
Things to not talk about:
Sports. Most women not only hate this but are afraid of dating a guy who disappears for all of the football season. Occasionally you will meet a girl who claims to like sports, but this is usually a trap designed to see if you go crazy on the topic. On the other hand, many women don’t want to date a gormless wiener who has no testosterone at all, so don’t say you don’t watch any sports. A good, neutral answer on the topic would be “I’ll watch it if nothing else is on. Plus I always watch the Super Bowl.”
Medical anything. I think I mentioned this before, but I will reiterate. Most women (and men, for that matter) are more or less disgusted by their own bodies and medical issues. They will want to float in a modest delusional state wherein whoever they are with doesn’t even have internal organs or expel waste of any form (by the way, if you have to use the restroom you should tell her when you excuse yourself that you are going to “wash your hands.”). Honestly, do you really want to hear about her womanly issues, skin condition, or back issues? Don’t let her know about yours. As far as she is concerned you are never sick. (House t-shirt image courtesy of the television t shirt section)
Nerd stuff. Star Trek, comic books, video games, D&D, or anything cool. It is a sad fact that most women (at least the ones I seem to date) have no actual interests beyond work, travel, the gym, and television. Yawnorific. However, keep your interests under your hat for now.
Pretty much anything you have not heard a “normal” girl bring up in conversation (things brought up by the weird goth comic book chick who you keep running into at the local comic book shop does not count).
I’m running out of steam. If I think of other things I will try to insert them into other posts as asides. I hope you are starting to get the idea.
I have been at Pacific Con the past two days. It is late and I am totally beat, but wanted to related something that came up today.
I was talking to a friend of mine about how much I love going to these conventions, even before I would show up to sell t-shirts, and she asked what it was I loved about them. I thought about it for a minute, and suddenly it hit me.
Like most nerds, I spent my childhood being alienated, bullied and ostracized by my so called peers while receiving nothing like help, guidance or protection from my parents and teachers. Mostly it sucked, and I felt like an alien the whole time. Those feeling still dog me to this day. The fact is, however, when I go to a gaming convention or comic book convention I am surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of people who have had a similar experience and for a couple days I don’t feel like total freak. I don’t have to explain anything about what I am into and I don’t have to hid any of my interests. It is shockingly liberating.
The truth is out there (X-Files t shirt from the television t shirt category).
That’s it. I’m tired and headed to bed. I probably won’t blog for a couple days and then get back on the dating advice. Talk to you all soon.
We talked about the guidelines for picking up your date at her place. Let’s assume you were not able to put her at ease (or just plain kind of creeped her out. This does not imply that you are creepy, as some women can be creeped out by a bird flying overhead. Of course, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that you are creepy and if so, work on it) and she doesn’t want you at her place and wants to meet you somewhere public.
Odds are you are catching some shrapnel from some other guy being weird, so don’t be surprised if she is by nature a little skittish. Try to pick a place with a good amount of people, booze, and a place to sit down. If possible not too noisy, but starting a date off in a crowd of people get a good energy level going.
(t shirt courtesy of the television t shirt category)
Anyway, 5-10 minutes early. Get a drink and sit at a table (not the bar. Drunks hang out at the bar). Keep an eye on the door. Expect her to be 10-15 minutes late. In this circumstance it is OK to text or email on your phone, but put it away as soon as she shows up (look like you are busy). Smile and wave when she appears.
That’s it for today. I gotta run. More tomorrow.