Category Archives: video games

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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Fun Video Friday! – 8-Bit Iron Man!

I love Iron Man and one of my favorite old school Nintendo games was Mega Man. Now they have been joined in a glorious video convergence.


See you next time!

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Filed under comic books, comic movies, fun video friday, iron man, video, video games, YouTube

Fun Video Friday! A Clockwork Orange 8-Bit Theater

For those of us in our thirties, the Nintendo Entertainment System burned images into our head that equaled fun and happiness. The 8-bit games sprites were shaped just well enough to figure out what they were, but never super specific. It was like impressionistic painting study on an interactive platform. Today’s video is from the animators at Cinefix and it is the 8-bit “game” of one of my favorite movies “A Clockwork Orange.”


See you next time!

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Project 365 4-4-2010 Easter: Part 2

The second Easter happened on the actual day of Easter at Rene’s parent’s house.  Again it was a whole lot of food that involved ham, baked macaroni (do NOT call it macaroni and cheese!), corn, baked green beans and salad.  Then they got us with the dessert!  New Orleans style bread pudding, strawberry shortcake and tart lemon cake.

Another food coma.

These were, literally, two of the least productive, least active days I can remember.  Even though I played with my nephews a little, even though I decided that yesterday was the day to learn how to play Rock Band using an instrument I can still count these two days as very low impact.

Speaking of Rock Band, I wasn’t kidding when I said I was finally learning how to play using an instrument.  I know I’m late on the “Band”-wagon here but I don’t have a game system at my house (I’ve never been much of a video gamer) and all my friends who do are already mega-experts so I feel self conscious playing with them.  Today, since the nieces brought over their copy complete with guitar and drum kit and since most of the family was busy watching The Princess and the Frog I had a chance to learn me some skills!

I settled on the drums 1) because I used to play drums when I was younger 2) because it made sense to my brain to play a rhythm game with a rhythm instrument and 3) because my fingers do not like the frets on the plastic guitar.  I sat myself down and did the whole warm-up section of songs as a play list and played through the whole thing.  I did pretty well, but knew I’d require more practice – after more food.

I took a forced sabbatical, there were other players playing, and learned by observation about some of the nuances of the game.

Then I created my rock star – Andros the hair-metal, super thin drummer straight out of London!  He went on a short tour.  During my tour I felt the Earth move beneath me.  At first I thought I was just dizzy from watching a video game for so long, but then Rene came running in suggesting that we might be having an earthquake.

My rocking did not stop.  Natural disaster or no I had a set to finish and my digital audience didn’t want excuses – they wanted to rock!  And rock them I did.

As soon as I was done, though, we turned on the TV to see just what had happened – a massive 7.2 quake just south of the boarder in Mexicali, Mexico that was felt across three states (California, Nevada and Arizona) and kind of explains why Frankie has been so jittery the last week.  Within an hour two Facebook groups were formed (one proclaiming “I Survived The Easter Earthquake of 2010” and the other “I Didn’t Survive The Easter Earthquake of 2010” – only on Facebook…), we had heard from many of our friends from across the country and we were educated by Cal Tech all about what we should expect for the next few days.  For us in the L.A. area that amounted to just about nothing.  It was a wild divergence from what we expected on Easter this year.

Today’s picture is of us before the quake:

See you tomorrow!


Filed under holidays, project 365 2010, video games

Where’s the Mountain Dew?

When you’re a geek, like myself, there are certain stereotypes that you must deal with. For example, gamer geeks, like myself, are not especially known for their hygiene, dietary habits or social abilities. Now, as with all stereotypes, there is some truth to that, but I can say, from my own experience, that a majority of the people that I have ever played games with have been delightful people that were an exception to the stereotypical rule.

However, you folks down there at ComiCon know that the smelly gamer/comic guy exists and they mass annually in San Diego. Right now, in fact! In honor of the brave souls sacrificing their sense of smell, and to all the gamers/comic guys be they ripe or pleasant, this video is for you!

It’s a classic that I was first introduced to in 2001 and is an animated version of the comic sketch ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ by the Milwaukee, Wisconsin comedy troupe, The Dead Alewives. It is from their CD ‘Take Down the Grand Master’. It was produced in 1996. The characters are from the game “Summoner.” I’ve never heard of the game except for this although I’m pretty sure it was released on the PS2.

Without any further ado, here’s “Dungeons & Dragons”…


Filed under geek, general, rpg, video, video games

God of War!

I don’t have a lot of free time right now. With all of the phone calls, writing and personal responsibilities it’s hard to have any time that can actually be called “extra,” but fate worked in a strange way the other day and I totally took advantage of it. My nephew is starting to learn how to play video games. Right now, at his age, they are extremely family interactive and he plays them with his mom (my sister) and his Mamma (my mom). His favorite game right now is a baseball game. Dylan has been to real games and, if only because his parents are big fans, loves the Angels! He is surprisingly good as a pitcher, better than the rest of us, but needs a little work on hit batting. He also got a video game for Disney’s “Cars.” He didn’t like that one at all. The whole concept of “steering” is still a little out of his grasp and he prefers the movie over the game so we decided to return it.

Now ideally I would have returned the game and gotten him something new to play – but the selections of appropriate game for him on the PS2 was not large so I got a bit selfish – I got a game for myself.


I first played this game way back when Corey, Jeff and I were all in the Casa de Divorce (my old saved game was even on my memory card). I helped Jeff beat it, but never got very far on my own game. Now that God of War 3 is on it’s way I felt like maybe it was time to do a little catch up.

God of War is a very cinematic game. It plays like a movie that you star in, which totally appeals to the actor in me. Taking inspiration from Greek Mythology, you play as Kratos, a jaded Spartan warrior in the service of the Gods. He is tasked by Athena to kill Ares, the God of War. For more details on the plot I will send you to the God of War Wikipedia page.

I played a little bit the day I got it (since my internet connection was down) and remember now why it’s such a fun game. I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to play next, but I’m looking forward to sending the undead back to Hades!

So now I get back to work emailing packages and making calls, sure it isn’t killing the legions of hell with a pair of Chaos Blades, but more importantly it’s a living.

See you tomorrow!

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Filed under god of war, musings, video games

Blood on the Sand

I like the “No Punctuation” game reviews at Escapist Magazine. I think they are really funny and often post them to my Friend Feed (although I recently discovered that I somehow managed to create a second FF account without realizing it! Stupid ease of use system!) I thought today’s review was especially poignant so I’m posting it here… and to my FF. Hopefully the right one.

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Filed under social commentary, video games