Zowie! Up in the Sky! It’s a Dork, it’s a Nerd, it’s a Geek … it’s Superwonk!

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Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Movies, Travel

Ciao, dolls! Still waiting to scram Antarctic way with Dr. Lucy and Onslow to see the yeti crabs and the ghost octopi. We’ve got some gum in the works; however, getting my Little Lindy into her astral plane carrier.

Little Lindy, ghostdog of the Hotel del Coronado

 

Sure, she’s a docile cottonball, but that little nutter needs to be confined to a conveyance when travelling. Making it all the more difficult, she’s a ghost like Moi, and is all the more flighty for it. Think Jack Skellington’s faithful Zero of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, but black. Dr. Harvey & Hildy (Mum and Dad) babysat her once; took her with them to Prince Edward Island, they did. The minute they hit the Charlottetown Harbour, Lindy was off like a new bride’s nightie. To allay the issue of a possible runaway, Dr. Lucy is currently devising a GPS for her: Ghost Pinpoint System. It’s a tricky bit and involves crystals. So, until we can lure Lindy into her carrier and Lucy can develop a viable crystal-enhanced tracking device, I’m just waiting in my turret room here at my beautiful Hotel Del and Lindy’s chasing sea gulls around the property.

 

Meanwhile, cats, I’m taking this extra time to research those early, frosty, ice-or-bust explorers, including watching any films I can on the snowbound set: 1934 Klondike Annie with Mae West and Robert Flaherty’s 1922 documentary Nanook of the North. Zowie! The Eskimo life is not for this vegetarian! Not to mention the lion’s share of the flicker was funded by a French furrier company. Yikes! I’ve also been reading loads of books on Adm. Richard E. Byrd and his 1930s, modern, mechanical migration southward: aerial cameras, airplanes, communications resources. Murder! This was no shot in the dark expedition! Thankfully, my travelling companions and I don’t need all that and furthermore, thankfully we’re all already dead; I’d hate to perish, stranded and starving on the ice. Of course, if I can look as wham-o, hubba-hubba as Vivien Leigh, all dolled up in faux furs and Max Factor,  in the 1935 Anna Karenina when they find my corps, aces!

 

As I’ve been researching our trip, I’ve also come across loads of totally unrelated, kooky info as I’ve been led astray via so many tentacles online, as one is wont to do. I’ve noted a phenomenon that wasn’t around at all in my day: geek culture. In the 1930s, nerds and geeks were of a certain intellectual class and not at all common. They were like Samoans; you might know someone who knows one and that was pretty cool. Nerds were easily identifiable by sector, industry and eye wear. The thick glasses and pocket protectors were a necessity, not a fashion statement akin to white earbuds, pork pie hats and skinny jeans on men. Ick, btw. (Gents, if you can wear skinny jeans … don’t. You look like junior high school girls and, anthropologically speaking, grown up tomatoes are not looking for gentlemen whom look like boys whom look like little girls. Just a note.)

 

Nerds and geeks were strictly born out of science, math, computer, space and there was also the occasional G-man.  They were the burdened heroes and pioneers of modern medicine, communications, burgeoning space programs and Cold War warriors in sensible shoes and $4 crew cuts. The most pedestrian of them were math majors and chemistry professors. Part of their appeal, guys or dolls, was that they were remarkable, unorthodox and weirdly marvelous. Geeks and nerds were like nobody else and you knew if you stood next to them at a cocktail party, you’d hear some bonkers stories, usually involving Bunsen burners, photons and nematodes. Ha! By the by, I know some will say there’s a vast difference amongst the labels geek, dork and nerd. Etymologically-speaking there is (see definitions below); culturally, not really.

 

Hint: front row/French Club holds a dork with published historical-literature and a geek whom develops serious intelligence technology. I've said too much.

 

Today, everyone is a geekoid. To be one is to voluntarily join a pithy club, complete with tech-themed clubs with names like Djørk, overpriced consumer-grade accessories available from your local Mapple “genius” (Seriously? Genius is now discounted?) and a monstrously lucrative industry growing around the need for all said-geeks to gather in a convention hall multiple times a year. Of course, if you’re a Goodluck Gander, the club also comes with a small but swell selection hot mamas with a hankering for quants and policy wonks. Here’s the kibosh, though. If everyone is a dork, nerd, geek or dweeb of some sort … is it really as unconventional and novel as one thinks? Further, if everyone is on the guest list, who’s left outside? The real ones, the true intellectuals and experts are like Superwonks; so deep into and dedicated to their fields, like Bill Gates and Dr. Michio Kaku, they could care less what they’re labeled and probably don’t care what color their earbuds are.

From what I can tell, geek is now partnered with just about any hobby, career or obsession known to mankind: orchestra geeks (known as orch dorks), pep club geeks, comic geeks, science geeks, math geeks, music geeks, fashion geeks, retro geeks, car geeks, goth geeks (just goth, please), ghost geeks, film geeks, TV geeks, gamer geeks, history geeks, book geeks, grammar geeks, sci-fi geeks, fantasy geeks, role-playing geeks, Faire geeks, cosplay geeks, Disney geeks, chess geeks and so many more. Who’s left? Jocks, professional fishermen, Wall Streeters, Prince William and 10thC. vikings may be the only folks left whom don’t categorize themselves as geeks.

 

Now, Webster’s will describe a geek as:

1. a computer expert or enthusiast;
2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual;
3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken. (The real definition in my day … not a proud claim!)

 

Nerd as:
1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person;

2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

 

Dork as:
1. a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others; a social misfit;
2. Vulgar/penis (Zowie!).

 

Good Noah also lists all interchangeably as synonyms: incl. such derisive terms as  jerk, schmo, grind and swot.

 

Guilty! Devore: what a dork

Happily, the flip-side to the fad is said-terms have become less hateful and derogatory. To wit, my dear pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, a self-professed history/film & TV/Disney geek, might be part of the problem. How much blame she shoulders, I shall not say. She has, however, taken the very geeky effort to compose a list of things White & Nerdy people like. Her original post on the matter is an homage to Christian Lander, the original Stuff White People Like creator, and can be read in full at her highly-popular-in-Russia-Germany-and-Finland site: Of Course, What Do I Know?

 

Check the list below, wheats. Are you White & Nerdy? Ask yourself before you toss around terms like geek, dork and nerd so willy-nilly … Am I really White & Nerdy? If so, own it. If not, you’re just embarrassing yourself.

 

White & Nerdy? I give you their King and Queen.

Stuff White & Nerdy People Like (In no particular order)

  • Comic Con (What kind of W&N would my pally Jen be if she hadn’t been published in the official Comic Con book?)
  • The Big Bang Theory (incl. memorizing the Barenaked Ladies’ theme song)
  • CNNGeekOut blog
  • Geology
  • Robots
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Steve Martin
  • Sci-fi and fantasy novels with anthropomorphic animals
  • Weezer
  • NASA
  • SyFy Channel
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock (no Googling the rules – either you know it or you don’t)
  • Periodic Table of the Elements (Fun idea: claim a corr. birthday element, if you find numerals offensive)
  • Crafting historical and theatrical alter egos (incl. learning Elizabethan English, Klingon, swordplay, spells, etc.)
  • Wired magazine
  • Swedish Fish
  • Michael Cera
  • Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Action figures
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Notating in journals (yes, ye olde quill to parchment) and memorizing things like Pi, Drake Equation, hierarchy of performance art, accurate recall of the British monarchy since 1066, etc. 
  • Making and wearing costumes
  • Using “one” as opposed to “you” or “I”
  • Lunchboxes
  • George Noory
  • Grant Morrison, Supergods (You doth rock, Sir … dig the accent, too!)
  • UFOs
  • Ghost Hunters (not Ghost Adventurers … there is a difference)
  • Bigfoot
  • George Lucas
  • Skywalker Ranch
  • Mystery Science Theater 3K
  • Disneyland
  • The X-Files
  • Renaissance Faire
  • Semi-audible snorts of derision
  • Jokes involving German, Austrian or Swiss scientists
  • Bill Gates
  • Reminding people Bill Gates saved Steve Jobs and Apple from oblivion with 150 million cabbages
  • Jokes involving Windows Vista, DOS, neutrons or nematodes
  • The IT Crowd
  • Microsoft
  • Microsoft-blue button downs
  • Any and all digital media
  • Fry’s Electronics
  • Roku
  • Hello Kitty
  • T-shirts with math or code humour (skeletal humour works, too, as in “I find this humerus”)
  • Goths (Yet, we also like the originals: roaming Visigoths & Ostrogoths of the Roman Empire)
  • Voyager Golden Record
  • The Simpsons
  • Comics
  • Comic books (yes, they are different)
  • Animation
  • Saying Linux
  • American Dad!
  • Historical- and/or technical-inaccuracies of any kind (so we can first laugh, then correct them)
  • Bad grammar (ditto)
  • George Will
  • Dictionaries
  • Peppering conversation with foreign language-bon mots
  • Shot-for-shot remakes (exclnt ex: Opening sequence to Indiana Jones I, stop-motion w/Hasbro figures)
  • Memorizing, then sporadically reciting, TV and movie quotes (incl. full dialogues with multiple characters)
  • Role-playing
  • Acquiring movie props (incl. the front-end of a film reel, cut and tossed, from an X-Files episode)
  • Complaining about tech support
  • Making lists

Did my pally omit anything? Let her know @JennyPopNet because I’m off to Antarctica!

 

Abyssinia at the South Pole, cats!

 

Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com

Inspector Hannah: The Curious Mysteries of the Poe Toaster & the Antarctic Ghost Octopi

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Category : Entertain Me, Geek Out, Geek Rants, Travel, Uncategorized

Ciao, babies! It’s winter in San Diego and whilst we’ve got sheer aces weather right now, it’s still winter. That means the Hotel Del is relatively quiet and I’ve got cabin fever of the Muppet Treasure Island degree. Plus, that mook Edward has proved completely useless where elevator pranks are concerned. What a wheat!

Winter at The Del: quiet like Spring Break in Iceland Photo: J.S.Devore

 

Despite the sunshine and good cheer, it’s still winter: too warm to don my fur-trimmed capes, not warm enough to wear those pretty Hawaiian dresses that Dr. Harvey & Hildy sent me. (By the by, I did find me a dead girl, poor thing, and -pouf!- I can now wear my Maui Zowies.) Winter is, however, much as those early New England settlers learned, an excellent time to indulge one’s indoor skills: sewing, reading, sketching, snuggling and the like. Check or cash, baby? Wink-wink! Of course, when one is a ghostie and resides in a vast hotel with a moderate clime and a great poolside bar, there really is only one activity to beset the winter doldrums: preparing to solve a mystery!

Now, maybe I’m keen to snoop out a good caper because I watch far too many mystery series, mostly British. The Brits know how to produce a series of feature film quality, BAFTA-worthy performances from what I assume are the only nine mystery actors in the U.K. and how to expose a murder scene without giving the viewer what could be a sneak peek of the latest Saw incarnation. Subtlety speaks volumes, all you GFX Joes at CSI and NCIS: just a note. Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis, Rosemary & Thyme, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Cadfael, Poirot (Set in 1930s London, so natch it’s my fave!) top my Netflix queue. Well, today is Edgar Allen Poe’s birthday and, Daddy-O, is there ever a mystery or two involved with that fellow! The Mystery of the Poe Toaster is my latest mindboggler.

Photo art by OddSock

A Boston baby like  me, Edgar Allen Perry was born in Beantown, but then gad about a bit: London, New York, Philly, Baltimore and Richmond to name a few stops. He even did a U.S. Army stint at Fort Monroe in Virgina as artillery Sgt. Major Edgar A. Perry, until he decided the military life wasn’t for him and began showing up on the base’s parade field wearing little other than his hat and angling for a discharge. Whilst there though, he wrote The Cask of Amontillado: a tale set in Vague Europe and based on the true ghost story of a Virginia soldier walled up alive in abandoned stone building. Echoes of such a horrific end make themselves heard in The Black Cat, as well. Yikes! Fort Monroe historians say folks still claim to see Poe’s spirit sitting at a table and writing his stories.

Alas, finally during an 1849 autumnal visit to Baltimore, the man who would come to be recognized as the father of the modern detective tale, with The Murders in the Rue Morgue, died eerily prophetically, under circumstances as mysterious as if prescribed by his own, pale hand. Speculation on his death at age forty runs the gamut from rabies to murder.

 

Fort Monroe, Virginia: Quarters No. 1 Photo: U.S. Army

Poe’s enigmatic departure took him from this realm and deposited him into mine. No, I’ve yet to meet him, but do have a pally in Baltimore who says she once saw him at the Barnes & Noble on the harbor, flipping through a Calvin and Hobbes comic book and chuckling. Years after he passed on, a secret admirer wafted into the B’more moonlight and began a perplexing proffering to the writer: a half-bottle of cognac and three roses. Lain respectfully by a disguised devotee, swathed all in black, a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, Poe’s original grave site at Westminster Hall has silently received the kindly gifts each birthday. Reported sightings of the booze and its bearer date back to my day in the 1930s. Since the 1940s, however, the mystery has ensued annually on the original Goth’s birthday, come 12:00 midnight on January 19th without fail … until 2010 when the admirer was a no-show for the first time. Since then, fans, readers, devotees and beautiful goths have pulled college-worthy all-nighters at the grave site, waiting for the man in the wide-brimmed hat to lay down his bouteille et fleurs, according to Jeff Jerome, curator of Poe House and Museum: a row house situated on Amity Street in Baltimore and cared for under the auspices of the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore. In the wee hours of Poe’s 203rd birthday, after seeing no sign of the hatted gifter for a third year, fans have decided to let go of the vigil. “It’s over with,” said Jerome.

Half-drunk Cognac and roses? Nevermore Photo by K.Kendall

 

It has been speculated that there could be copycats to come; many say that’s a shame. Yet, ponder this, kittens. Maybe there had been copycats or even generational hand-overs in decades past. If no one has ever known the true identity, how could we know for certain it’s been the same man, or woman, all along? Maybe there will be copycats; yet in the end it’s not a shame, not by a long shot. Doesn’t it just mean that generations and generations later he’s still thought of reverently? For my part, I hope someone continues the tradition. Horsefeathers! Maybe I’ll do it! Who cares who does it? Don’t we all want to be remembered after we pass on “to the light”? Writers especially! Show me a writer whom doesn’t long, secretly or not so secretly, to be regaled for ages after their death and I’ll show you a great big fibber … with the exception of Franz Kafka.

My fave W&D bag: a Charlie Chaplin cocktail purse

I had a secret admirer once. After the Ida Lupino incident, some sweet San Diego Sugar Daddy left me gorgeous handbags and beaded purses outside my hotel room door for near forty years. It got kind of creepy, but I still have all the bags and don’t they make for a fabulous collection?! Most all of ‘em are spiffy Whiting & Davis beauties! Eat your heart out, Paris, Eva and Shakira! I never knew who he was and like the 30 Rock episode where Jenna Maroney’s stalker ceases his harangues, I did miss the attention, and the bags, once he stopped. Oh, well. Maybe some new admirer will begin gifting me goodies. Heck, someone already gave Lucy and me Kindles. Go ahead, cats, send me something! Send me a postcard, in fact! Let me know who’s reading my gum-flapping and send it to:

Miss Hannah Hart, ghostdame/Turret Rm.
c/o Hotel del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118

Now you’re on the trolley!

 

In the waning days of January, the days are getting a tad longer here. Still, Dr. Lucy and I are  mighty bored at The Del. After we work out the Poe mystery for a while, we have a new adventure planned. We’re thinking about heading to Antarctica! Marine biologists have found ghost octopi! Tell me Dr. Lucy and Onslow aren’t itching to check out this wild snow show!  Zowie!

By the by, the city of Baltimore, Maryland has recently cut all funding to the Poe House and Museum. If you find this as great a travesty as I do and want to make a donation, large or small, to keep the place running past this summer of 2012, send it along to Jeff Jerome himself and tell him Hannah Hart sent you!

Abyssinia, cats!

 

@JennyPopNet
Hannah’s fave places to haunt online? https://www.amazon.com/author/jenniferdevore and jenniferdevore.blogspot.com