Tag Archives: television

Who's a geek?

So I went to the library at the local university the other evening to get a book that wasn’t available at either of the local public libraries. I went after 5 p. m. so I could park in a lot and not have to pay (like in the Visitors Parking Garage) and not get a ticket, since school is out and most of the lots are mostly empty.

It didn’t take me long to get the book. I knew what floor it was on and had the call number written down because I had looked it up on line a few weeks ago. And I wasn’t parked that far from the library so didn’t have to walk clear across campus in the scorching heat. Everything was fine, until I got hit with this huge wall of nostalgia. It nearly flattened me. I practically moaned out loud.

I blew it. I blew it so bad. I blew it in so many ways I can’t even begin to enumerate.

I love being on a campus, would love a reason to spend every day working there, walking around all the different buildings, soaking up all the scholoarly vibes. I should have gone back to graduate school. Got a doctorate. Become a professor. Or something. Anything for the chance to work and spend my days on a college campus.

Anyway — the book. Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton. I’d seen it on his blog and got curious enough to go looking for it. It took me all of about eight hours to read, although some of the blog excerpts I’d already read, so could skim through those at warp nine.

Oh. Yeah. That Wil Wheaton. Who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation — a geeky kid played by (apparently) an authentically geeky kid who grew into a geeky adult and wrote a book about it all. I found it highly entertaining, engaging, and something I could relate to… almost too much.

Wil had a demon he named “Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake,” and as I got to know the two of them through the pages of his book, I noticed someone I’d been ignoring for years, sitting a little behind me, drumming her fingers — “I Never Should Have Left The Zoo.” Oh, brother.

When I first started working at the Fort Worth Zoo I walked around thinking all day, “Pinch me. Make sure I’m not dreaming. Make sure I’m awake, because I don’t want to miss a single nanosecond of this.” And I returned to that theme frequently for the entire three years eight months I worked there. So why did I leave? Along with the considerable philosophical differences I had with a few co-workers and with the individuals who ran the place, I had a plan to finish my Master’s degree and rule the world. I was going to be a SCIENTIST!

The assistant director of the zoo laughed at me when he heard me say that. Laughed. At me.

I, of course, had no idea that getting a Master’s degree wouldn’t make me a scientist. In fact, a Master’s degree doesn’t really make you qualified for a lot of better jobs than a Bachelor’s degree does. It just makes you overqualified for a lot more.

So it might be a little like what Wil Wheaton went through trying to find acting jobs in the post Star Trek phase. Having a hard time finding a good fit as a “journeyman” as opposed to an “apprentice,” but not quite to the level of “master” (which for me would be that PhD)where you can write your own ticket, as it were. But-oh-well.

I did have to kind of laugh at Wil when he said in the book how scary it was to contemplate a complete career redirect in his mid twenties! I changed career paths at thirty, and again at forty, and now in my fifties I’m still not sure I’m grown up enough to decide what I want to do with my life! But to Wil Wheaton, if he should read this — I really enjoyed your book, think you should keep writing, hope you keep getting acting jobs because you enjoy that, and I plan to watch you on Leverage this week. Dude.

"Top Gear" and Dream Cars

For those of you who may not know, I’m something of a “gear head.” Oh, not so much to sit around discussing technical specs and that stuff, but I like cool cars. I took one of those silly Facebook quizzes to see “What Car Fits You Best,” and my result was Bugatti Veyron. Yeah, uh,huh, that’s what I’m talking about. Can’t exactly see myself running to Kroger in it, and don’t think even one of my dog crates would fit in the back, but-oh-well. I suppose if I could afford a Veyron, I could probably keep a Honda Fit around for the grocery store errands and the like.

And I’m a fan of “Top Gear” on BBC America. They just started their new season last night with a showdown of three different cars — one for each of the three hosts. Jeremy drove an Aston Martin, Richard a BMW, and James a Porsche. At the end of the show they all pretty much agreed that the Porsche (a 911) was the fastest, the BMW was the most powerful, but hideously difficult to “program,” and the Aston was, well, I forget. Anyway, I wondered aloud what kind of gas mileage the Porsche got. My brother said if you can afford to buy one, you probably don’t need to worry about saving money on gas. Hello. Not talking about saving money. Talking about not using so much gasoline. And I’m thinking that if they can build them to go 200 miles an hour, they should be able to build them to go 1000 miles on a tank of gas.

When they can build a car like that, then I’ll think it’s worth 65 thousand pounds (or the dollar equivalent) — not that I’d be able to afford it anyway. I’m just saying.

The T.V. Show That Ate My Brain

— and the ones that still may.

When I moved back to Texas to look after my dad, I had a lot of “Oh, just shoot me now” moments. Like every day at four p.m. when we had to watch “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Back then Daddy was still capeable of working the T.V. remote, and in fact maintained a death grip on the thing the rest of the evening. And of course since he had to crank the volume up, there was very little chance of escaping Walker’s grasp anywhere in the house. And it was not like he’d never seen the show before.

Pop was big on repetition. He had read every Perry Mason mystery ever written… at least a dozen times. He claimed he didn’t try to remember how they turned out, so they were just as fresh to him the next time he read them. If they were anything like the T.V. show, he wouldn’t even need to remember particulars.

I can’t think of more than a handful of Walker episodes where the girlfriend/lawyer didn’t get carried off by the bad guys and have to be rescued. She made it through law school, could apparently handle herself in a hostile courtroom, but couldn’t pick up a wrench and clock a guy upside the head — had to wait for mister kung-fu asskicker to rescue her. Oh, please. Let me just open a vein.

But watching television was about the only thing I could do with my dad by then. Conversations were out. Even when he could still hear reasonably well, he wasn’t much of a listener. As his hearing got worse, he just got mad at everyone for not speaking clearly enough. I remembered that when my mom was still alive, she just nodded a lot. I decided if it worked for her…

I also got in the habit of jumping up at every commercial break to go do something I was actually interested in. I worked on a lot of things piecemeal. My sanity level hovered right around the edge.

So what’s ironic is that every day at four p.m. I tune in to the SciFi channel to watch re-runs of Star Trek Enterprise and Stargate SG-1. How many times have I seen them? It doesn’t matter. There are no NEW shows going off-planet these days, so I have to get my outer space fix any way I can. And anyway, what’s up with the no new space operas? I can’t remember a time in recent years when there hasn’t been even one series that took place on a space ship, a space station, or a distant planet. Until Stargate Universe fires up this fall, I’m going to keep watching these re-runs. I wonder if my dad was watching Walker because all the shows like Gunsmoke and Rawhide and Wagon Train were gone extinct. For my money, Walker was a sorry-ass substitute anyway.