You’re Having Fun Wrong: A Pale, SoCal Geek’s Summer Alternatives

Some are born Geek, some achieve Geekness and others have Geekness thrust upon them. For those of us whom are verily Geek-at-Heart, we shall not be shedding the title as quickly as a West Hollywood hipster sheds his iPad the moment Apple bids him so. Whilst many will claim the title of Geek, as to be Nerd/Dork/Geek/Wonk is très chic, it is a bonkers-dangerous, double-edged sword, kittens. We may live blissfully in our own little, dorky biospheres; yet we are easy targets, like a wounded dolphin, or the only wheat dressed up like a pilgrim the Wednesday before school lets out for Thanksgiving Weekend.

We are Geek. Photo: San Diego Air and Space Museum archives

From sea to nerdy Cameron-submersible sea, forest to dorky Bigfoot forest, Skywalker Ranch and beyond the solar flares, this proudly pale populace has some serious ideas about what is fun and what is not. Summer can be a tough time for us, what with the sun, the outdoors and the prospect of a proper, dress-up holiday still months away. Never mind all that; we know what makes for real summer fun and with all due respect to the rest of you, to quote The Big Bang Theory‘s Dr. Sheldon Cooper, “You’re having fun wrong.”

Summer can be a bit of a free-radical situation for us: left to fend for ourselves amidst the plains and savannas of a deconstructed season, fighting against the harsh summer sun and the expected, traditional, normal, outdoor activities of the average, summer reveler. In adult-life, as in school, just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean the wedgies cease. In such situations, it is only natural to seek the like-minded. When the broad landscape is dotted with the frequently unavoidable herds of roaming, aggressive, beefy, sunny, beachy, geek-squashers it is often necessary for the more fragile, the proverbial 98-pound weaklings, to gather and move in clusters. The sand-kickers can’t get us all if we move as one.

If it is entirely plausible that you could spend a joyful afternoon at Peet’s Coffee having a serious debate about whether Han or Greedo shot first, you just might find the following summer alternatives to beach volleyball, backyard BBQs and 5K mud runs great fun indeed. I cannot advise on alternatives in your backyard, but as a Cali Girl, I will gladly walk you through some of my Golden State’s finest, oft air-conditioned, cerebral, summer dork attractions.

Xyon Koreen knows. Han DID shoot first. Photo: Twisted Pair Photography, SDCC 2K12
  • San Diego Comic-Con: Certainly a toss-up, as to whether this should take the number one or two spot. In the end, it had to be crowned as supreme. Comic-Con is Mecca for con geeks the world over, even the new breed of geek: the poseur. C-C has become the new Studio 54. Few at the 1970s, iconic, NYC discotheque probably actually loved disco. Today, it’s questionable how many Comic-Con attendees even read comic books, let alone have a passion for the medium. Still, decades after Richard Alf et al gifted the Geek World with Comic-Con and after all the poseurs have moved on, when The Big Bang Theory runs its course, the real fans will still faithfully flood the San Diego Convention Center each July, giving the San Diego Fire Marshal four sleepless nights every summer.
  • Disneyland: Like Salieri to Mozart or Sean Penn’s Emmet Ray to Django Reinhardt, were there no Comic-Con, Disney would clearly reign on this list. If you’re fortunate enough to have an annual passport, chances are good you can’t get enough of Star Tours and its fifty-some possible scenarios, The Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones, a Johnny Depp-frosted Pirates of the Caribbean and browsing ad nauseam the Capodimonte-laden glass shelves of Main Street’s Disneyana. We Disney devotees do enjoy the occasional, audible snort of derision at new attractions and additions and love to regale newbies and family first-timers with behind-the-scenes Park trivia (especially those of us whom worked there). Overall, it is our church of sorts and if you don’t like Goths, stay away mid-September through January, for The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay at The Haunted Mansion is really, honestly, to die for, kids.
  • Renaissance Pleasure Faire: This one’s the original, yon friends. It’s usually over before summer solstice hits, but you’ll find plenty of other faires up and down the state. Yet, prithee, this is the Hamlet of Renaissance festivals. Oft simply called “Southern” or “Ren Faire”, it’s been around since what feels like Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh were playing footsies behind hogsheads and if you’re well-acquainted with Faire, then you know the tacit rules of conduct: no polyester, no real names, no Victorian Gary Oldmans from Dracula, keep your tongue in character and do not ask us if our costumes are hot. It’s almost always 100 degrees and, with the exception of our cleavages, we’re swathed head-to-toe in leather, velvet, suede and fur. What thinkst thou? Faire is no place for steampunk and there’s also an internal, heated and on-going debate about Captain Jack Sparrow, because he’s a “made-up pirate”. Of course, most of the pirate guilds are themselves comprised of made-up pirates. I give you geek.
Are you Faire enough? Photo: Twisted Pair Photography
  • Conan: Deserving of a Larry King suspenders & glasses/Arnold sausage snap combo-pantomime, this day trip can’t be beat, even by the Masturbating Bear. Whether you’re a lucky local of beautiful downtown Burbank or saving up your game tokens for a Golden State sojourn, a Conan taping is probably the second best taping you can attend in The Valley. Tickets are free, but the online lottery is hit ‘n miss. Still, if you can nail a date and don’t mind being in Burbank on a weekday, you’ll be better than just about everybody back home on the farm.
  • Huntington Library & Gardens: Word nerds, book geeks and art history-snarks, this is your perfect afternoon, except Tuesdays and only from 10:30-4:00 in the summer, 12-4 otherwise. Of course, if you want to miss traffic getting out of the Pasadena-area, you’d best try to be out of the parking lot by 2:30, 3:00 tops. Home to a Gutenberg Bible, an Ellesmere manuscript of The Canterbury Tales, scores of early-Shakespearean papers, Audubon folios and a selection of 18thC. French and English decorative arts that would make Sofia Coppola swoon, the quiet and hidden treasure of L.A. museums is clandestinely tucked away in upscale, residential San Marino, an old money suburb of Pasadena. If you’re drawn to English incunabula, powdered wigs, French Lace roses and think Joshua Reynold’s Sarah Siddons as Tragic Muse is just downright hot, then you’d better get going. Traffic will be a total nightmare in about forty minutes.

Clearly, because we are Geek, I rest assured many of you will disagree with my list, if only to dispute its hierarchy. Moreover, I expect others will rant and rail over omissions and inclusions. Please, do share. Like learning my Hotel Del ghostie cohort, Dr. Lucy is as bonkers for Carl Barks comic books as I am, it’s always a thrill to learn where more of my own kind, ghosts or non, roam at will, without threat or fear of a good swirly.

Abyssinia, cats!


Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? @JennyPopNet

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