Category Archives: star trek

Am I Still A Geek?

When I created this image I really thought this blog was going to go another way.

In the past I would have no problem identifying with this statement:

I am a geek.

I don’t think that this is any kind of real surprise to anyone who reads this blog or knows me, but it’s not something that I bring up that often for public consumption.  Working in toys has really activated my geekery gene and since that is what I’ve been spending so much time on turning it into content for the internet seemed like the next natural choice. But as I’ve gotten back into my geekier pursuits I’ve noticed that I’m not feeling particularly connected to “geek” as a community – and I don’t know how I feel about that.

Why do we care?

In all likelihood you probably don’t, but it’s very possible that we are about to see a change to geek culture and since geek culture has been mainstreamed any changes that come are likely going to affect the entertainment industry in a massive way. I think my identity crisis is just a symptom of something bigger… maybe.

Being a geek is nothing new and we are somehow still in a geek culture golden age. If you were to tell me twenty-five years ago that some of the most popular things on YouTube, videos that were getting MILLIONS of views, were of people playing Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games I’d laugh until I passed out. Put on top of that the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most popular, profitable and unstoppable franchise factories making household names out of characters that no one knew of merely a decade ago? And the fact that Star Wars as a universe is still chugging along in mainstream media? And that I can find Iron Man action figures in just about every single armor that he has ever worn both on screen and in the comics? I tell you my little teenage heart would burst.

But it was not always this way.

I like to frame myself as a “proud geek,” but if I’m being honest that hasn’t always been true. Even in times as geek popular as now I tend to hold that part back from the spotlight. In the past I have justified this hiding because of my “brand.” On this blog and on social media I preferred to be an actor first, focus on career related things… and every once in a while toss in an obscure movie reference, mention that I need to go play D&D, or talk about Iron Man. But that was not very authentic in how much of my private identity can be tied back to what are considered geeky (sometimes VERY geeky) things.

Although some of the geeky things have gained a hip status, the fact of the matter is that all the cool popular people playing or involved in this stuff  are a very small, niche part of the people who play and participate in the core of geekery. The core audience still carries the stigma that was turned into stereotypes used in TV and movies, especially in the late 70’s through the 90’s. Hell, that was my bread and butter for most of my young acting career.

That’s me, in the broken glasses, as Kirby the Nerd.

You can see it in the faces of cosplayers, Magic the Gathering players, wargamers and hard core D&D enthusists; there is an underlying fear anytime they are around people outside of their community that they will be made fun of. And I totally get that, I have also had that fear.

I think that Simon Pegg has presented the best definition of the modern geek:

As he points out, this doesn’t just apply to things like superhero fans and Warhammer 40,000 players but sports fanatics and people who love cars too. But the stigma doesn’t follow the latter the way it does the former. Jocks and nerds may be satisfying the same itch deep down, but society in general views them in very different ways and always at odds.

I was at Rose City Comic Con this year. It’s the first con that I’ve been to since San Diego ComiCon back in either 2012 or 2014 (I can’t remember) and even longer than that since I went to a convention of any size that wasn’t related to the entertainment industry in some way shape or form. This year felt different than what I remember.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad and I going to comic cons all over Southern California (mostly the Shrine Shows in L.A.) looking for old Iron Man back issues, checking out old toys and collectables, and doing our best to bargain down a price with the dealers. At these shows I built a very impressive collection of Yoda memorabilia, got my first Iron Man action figure from the defunct Secret Wars line, and completed a volume 1 collection of Iron Man comics. 

I would spend my days reading comics and coming up with adventures for all my favorite characters in my head. The reading material came in handy for auditions as well since I was merely a passengers for nearly a decade. I was proud to know as much about the Marvel Universe as I did. I knew Doctor Who lore and stories that would surprise adult fans. I knew Star Wars down to the Tonnika sisters. But I had very few people that I could share all this with.

Junior High School, the worst of all the “schools” in my opinion, was when I met my core group of friends, people I still know and love to this day. Jeff Garvin was my entry point to the group. He and I met doing Annie with a community theater group (another thing that is generally considered pretty geeky, but that’s another blog post altogether). We shared mutual interests, Star Wars and comic books in a general sense, and he introduced me to his Dungeons and Dragons group. Jeff, Dan and Scott became my best friends through school. 

In addition to D&D we shared other common interests in movies and music. Star Wars and Indiana Jones were big favorites and we spent way too much playing the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter computer games. We tried some other RPGs and Dan, Scott and I all started playing Warhammer 40k. We had each other’s backs. We were our own little community and we could run in the circles of other geek communities without effort.

At Rose City Comic Con I was the outsider. Even though I’m an over 40-bearded-beer-gut-guy (a description that has come to be the standard archetype for the stereotypical geek) I saw the distrustful looks that came from the cosplayers and gamers and comic book fans. I imagine I must’ve looked like a dad who was missing his kid, especially since I was there by myself. There was a part of me that wanted to say, “Don’t worry I’m totally one of you.” But even writing that seems condescending and pointless, especially since geekdom and fandom are plagued by toxic jerks right now. I can’t find fault with the suspicious looks. If you didn’t know any better I could be one of those entitled, angry and anonymous man-children screaming about The Last Jedi. Toxic Fandom is the culmination of people who felt powerless finding a voice and, in most circumstances, trying to claim ownership on a fictional world that should be open to everyone. When that kind of “fandom” finds other people who feel the same we get things like what we saw with recent Star Wars stars leaving social media.

But that’s not what I want to see. Sure there will always be jerks, but in general the community is at its best when it is supportive of each other and when people who want to learn about and participate in the geekery are welcomed. Even though I got a lot of side-eye yesterday, the folks at the convention we all very polite and super excited about what they were doing there. That’s the part I like. That’s what I’d like to see more of.

To that point I’m going to start talking about my geekier pursuits here on the blog more. I may not feel like I’m directly linked into the community like I used to be, but I still D&D like a boss, build and paint 40k armies competently, and can still throw down in Supernatural continuity conversations with the best of them. The old saying goes “be the change you’d like to see” and I’d like to help put some positivity back into the geeky stuff that I love.

Please join me! Tell me about the geeky stuff you love in the comments. Introduce me to that thing you like that maybe you’re self conscious about. Let’s build a better community without entitlement and toxicity.

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On Moving & April Fools Day & Geek Rants

April Fools! This post has nothing to do with Doctor Who.

After a week off from moving I’m back to writing, and settling into our new surroundings.

I’m not a big fan of moving.

I like the experience of being in a new place and exploring new neighborhoods and seeing new things, but the act of actually moving my stuff in not high on the list, in fact it doesn’t even make the list, of ways that I like top spend my time.

Picking up boxes, putting down boxes. Making things fit in the trunk of a car. Renting a truck, and having to bug your friends to help you move – even if you offer them food and booze for their trouble – it just isn’t any fun. Rene and I are very fortunate to have friends and family that were willing to give us a hand. And we were much better prepared for this move than we have been for moves in the past. I felt pretty good about that and it seemed that it was appreciated by those who helped us.

It figures that the day that we are officially out of the old house is April Fool’s Day. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop and find out this was all a prank and now we have to move again (ugh, that hurts to even think about).

I’ve never been a huge fan of April Fool’s Day, it just seems like a day where the unimaginative get mean and, with the advent of social media, you find out that all of your friends are “engaged” or “pregnant.”

There is one particular AFD story that did get me pretty good and appeals to my geek side.

Many years ago when the Star Trek show Enterprise was first released Wil Wheaton posted on WilWheaton.Net that he would be returning as Wesley Crusher, all grown up and time travelling to visit the NX-01. Here’s a link to the original post: Good News, Bad News

For me this was great news! I had some real problems with Enterprise. I am not a huge Trek fan, but I like it and if there’s a new show I like to check it out. Right off the bat the continuity nerd in me was upset that they even called the first ship Enterprise. In the canon of the series we have seen in many places “all” of the ships that bore the name Enterprise – from the sailing vessel, to the aircraft carrier, to the shuttle and then all the fictional star ships of the future. Never, not once until the new series, was there an experimental ship called Enterprise. Suddenly here it is. And it’s supposed to be a historic ship?! Something people remember!? Yet somehow it hasn’t been mentioned ever before? Sure, ok. Strike 1.

Then we see time travel become a major plot point in episode one, but not just normal Star Trek time travel; a whole race of time travelers being directed by a mysterious person from the future!


So the only way this series ends well for me is if there’s some kind of chronological breakdown that erases the ship from history and we get a tragic story of a great ship and crew that never was as far as the timeline is concerned. You’d have the drama of these people performing valiant acts of courage and duty with the knowledge of knowing that eventually they would be erased from history. I thought that was a great idea, but I figured it would never come to pass… then I saw Wil’s post and my heart grew hopeful.

I’m very bad at checking the days. I barely know what day it is today without looking at the calendar and so I neglected to see that this post was made on April first.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one, here’s the followup he made on April 2, 2001: Sorry Mom & Dad.

So that’s my April Fool’s Day story, do you have one? Share it in the comments!

See you next time!

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Filed under geek, holidays, moving, rene, star trek

How Spock Says “Eff You.”

So Spock is a Vulcan and Vulcans are a civilization that have eliminated their emotions…

…but even an emotionless Vulcan needs to flip off the occasional Andorian and this is what it looks like:

Can you dig it?

I knew you could.

Here’s a series of pictures where I’m laying down on the dog.

Why am I showing you a bunch of pictures? Not sure but I’ve been wanting to talk about how Spock flips people off for, like, three days.

See you tomorrow!

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Filed under Frankie, rambling, rene, star trek

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

I will begin with WOW!

I’ll admit I was doing my best to keep my expectations low, but even if my expectations were high I think I would have been very, very satisfied.
By the time you read this I am going to hope you have seen the movie and so there will be minor SPOILERS, but because I enjoyed this movie so much and hope that this review will inspire those who have not yet seen it to go out and see it I will keep the major spoilers to a minimum – or at least separate them from the main part of this review.
The poster promise that “This Isn’t Your Father’s Star Trek” is no joke, but the nice thing is, while this is definitely not your father’s Trek, it is has the correct amount of reverence for your father’s Trek.
It is the story of Spock and Kirk and their developing friendship. The tie to the old show(s) is there, but through the logical use of a well used conceit (see time travel) we get the satisfaction that all of the years of Trek history that fans have loved is still intact while still leaving plenty of room for a new series to grow – with all of the characters that Trekkies have been writing slash fiction about for decades. J.J. Abrams really managed to get the best of both worlds.
The similarities are there, including all the important continuity. Captain Pike is helming the new Enterprise. Sulu is a fencer, Uhura is a comm officer, etc. The ship looks the same in all the important ways, and is even a bit of a hybrid between the TV show ship and the original movie ship, and the creative team also managed to infuse a bit of the Star Wars “used universe” concept – especially in the first starship we see, the doomed USS Kelvin. What this new movie manages to accomplish and provide that the original series dropped the ball a bit on is giving a back story to all of the main characters.
Before the only characters that had much, if any, back story were Kirk, Spock and McCoy. This film expands on those, and also adds these same levels of background to all of the loyal bridge crew. Majel Barret-Roddenberry is still the voice of the computer, but there is a much more “hands-on” feel to all of the ship work.
In fact the ships in general all feel much more ship-like. The design is actually pretty brilliant. Everyone and their mother has talked about the bridge design. Yes, the glass and white plastic looks great, but the rest of the sets deserve some love too! The engine room is amazingly detailed and looks like that of a battleship or submarine. The quarters are cramped and when you see the bridge, transporter room, and the shuttle bay they all feel very real and small and appropriate on a battleship or explorer ship. The Romulan ship was equally good with a very alien appearance and features that seemed strange to have on a ship at all, but seemed to make sense in their alienness.
The effects were spectacular. I really liked the new phasers, space-drill, space-free fall and the subtle work that was done, especially with the alien faces and designs. The aliens were still remarkably human-with-funny-noses but there were also variations on the theme and some nicely alien-aliens as well.
You may notice there is no mention of any particular performance in this review and that is because everyone – all of the actors in this film – so beautifully filled their rolls that I didn’t feel like I was watching actors, I felt like I was being granted the ability to view living people traveling through space. They were all very good.
This was a very satisfying reboot. The geeky stuff was there for the fans and, as I witnessed by watching Rene, there was plenty for new viewers to keep them interested. Go see this movie. It’s a fun way to start your summer.
That concludes the non-SPOILER -section of this review. If you read past this point it’s on you.
Now I realize that time travel, especially in Trek movies/TV shows is way used – over used even – but I think it’s worth putting aside the stereotype for the sake of this movie. It really resolves all of the continuity issues. Because of this time distortion everything that happens in this new franchise of movies happens in an alternate time-line so it won’t be stuck trying to match old continuity. It also means that there can still be new material made for the old series/time-line. Of course Spock is now stuck in the alternate time-line, but I think that’s a small price to pay.
The opening of the movie is really emotionally charged. The death of Kirk’s father as he is being born made me choke up (and I don’t choke up for anything) and got Rene to cry. Abrams really knows how to mine the sentimentality of a scene and he digs in deeps and leaves a mark with that opening. By the time the title treatment runs you are totally on board, or at least I was.
The destruction of Vulcan was handled pretty well. The use of “red matter” was totally new to me. I’ve never heard of “red matter” and I don’t know if it’s based on actual scientific principle or if it was just a plot device.
I really liked the Kobyoshi Maru sequence. Seeing the old Klingon battle cruisers was great! I would like to have seen more of them. Maybe in the sequel? Please?!!?!?

I would like to know why the destruction of a sun created a time hole and why the black hole that was formed to destroy the ship at the end was just a regular black hole.

I’m also not a huge fan of the “Scotty beamed into the water thing and then pumped through the pipe” bit. It was funny, but I didn’t feel it was super neccessary and he was also under water a long time without dying and the whole hatch opening and only about 20 gallons of water coming out of a man-sized pipe with pressureizes water pumping behind him. I did think it was fun and made sense in old school world of Trek. It’s a very minor gripe.
Actually that’s all I’ve got. I might think of something else later, but today – in the after glow of seeing the movie – I’m very happy.


Filed under movies, reviews, star trek