Webcomics, Video Games, Books, Geek Toys, and Life in General

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chocolate Milk...Sweet, Sweet Chocolate Milk

You can’t know me without knowing how much I love chocolate milk. I love milk on its own in a whole different way, but chocolate milk…just matters to me, somehow. It’s almost a religious devotion for me—which is blasphemy, I'm sure—and it probably means that I am psychologically dependent on it, but I don't care! I swear that I LOVE chocolate milk!

I like chocolate. M&Ms, kisses, chocolate chips—they’re great, don’t get me wrong.

But I LOVE chocolate milk. (I am going somewhere with this.)

I have tried many different kinds; I have experimented with different food-and-chocolate-milk combinations; and I have scientifically proportioned the amount of chocolate syrup to milk in each of the types of glasses in my home so that when I pick a glass I pour the perfect amount of milk and squeeze the perfect amount of chocolate syrup to create the perfect glass of sweet chocolate milk every time.

By the way, always spring for the real deal: Hershey’s, not store brand. Try as they might, stores make an inferior product. And unless you are five years old, it’s time to graduate from Nestle Quik, honey. Those of you out there who scoff and say that Hershey’s ruined chocolate for Americans can die a horrible death and rot. You…know…nothing. I’m not going to get on a rant about European chocolate, because that’s not what I started talking about.

Ready for the clincher, the point, the thrust of this article?

If I gave up chocolate milk, I would lose thirty pounds. Think about that. All I would have to do is drink a glass of water every time I normally drink a glass of chocolate milk. Tells you how often I imbibe, doesn’t it?

Try picking up a thirty-pound weight, or strapping it around your waist, and carrying it around with you all the time. I think you would tire of it long before you became accustomed to it. It is thirty pounds! It’s like being pregnant with twins! Imagine that this thirty pounds is the price now for whatever activity you really enjoy. If you put it down, that’s it: no more books, or no more internet, or no more video gaming. There is not much that you do on a daily basis which is so important to you that you would be willing to carry that thirty-pound weight with you ALL THE TIME, even when you are not actually engaged in your chosen activity.

Yet that is what I have chosen to do. I will not (WILL NOT) lose the weight—which I carry twenty-four hours a day—because I choose to engage in a few minutes of chocolate milk consumption each day. A little in the morning, a little in the evening. (Okay a lot in the morning, a little in the evening.)

I challenge anyone to try it! Take something that you really enjoy, and try giving it up completely (cold turkey) for an extended stretch; and every time you indulge, you have to take up the weight again. No fair sneaking a bit here or there and telling yourself it doesn’t count, ladies! Try swearing off the internet for a week, if that’s your thing. Place a canvas bag next to the computer, full of dumbbells. If you so much as log on, you have to carry the dumbbells for the rest of the week! You’ll either stay off the computer,…or you’ll cheat.

I have analyzed it six ways from Sunday (mmm…chocolate sundae), and I have arrived at the conclusion that I. Will. Never. Be. Thin. Again. I will never be thin again. And why? Because I love chocolate milk more than I love being thin.

This is not a “Feel Great While Looking Fat” article. I don’t feel great about being thirty pounds overweight. It’s tiresome and embarrassing.

This isn’t a “Conquer Your Inner Demons” essay either. I don’t expect anyone out there to believe I am on the verge of quitting chocolate milk anytime soon. Creamery coupons welcome and appreciated, people! I also accept bouquets and baskets of Hershey's syrup, bottles of creamery chocolate milk, and anything else chocolate-milk-y you can find! (My birthday is in February, but don't stand on convention!)

Consider this more of a “Know Thyself” column. I have come to terms with the fact that I have forever sacrificed the skinny guy I once was for the mini-van model I’m sporting nowadays—all for the love of chocolate milk. And I have no regrets.

I’m tempting fate now by revealing this weakness! I know it! If this were a gripping movie, chocolate milk would kill my brother or my wife somehow, and I would hunt down every last drop of it to destroy it, once and for all! I would wear some ironic symbol, and I'd pass people in malt shops sipping away at chocolate milk...and I'd give them "the stare of justice"...right before bombing the place back to the stone age!

If this were a comic book, chocolate milk would somehow cause my downfall! I’d be caught, crippled by those extra pounds, in a trap so diabolical that the readers would light up the interweb with fan-fictions! T-shirts would sport both pro-chocolate milk and anti-chocolate milk slogans! Chocolate milk villains would fight bottled-water-superheroes in online role-playing games! "H2O powers--soak 'em!" "CACAO POW!"

If this were a television event, I would discover that I was lactose intolerant or diabetic or a (gasp!) CHOCOHOLIC! There would be an intervention, and the end of the movie would feature a painfully slow shot of me walking past the display of chocolate milk at the grocery store. A single tear would make its way down my face. I’d win an Emmy or something, and I’d end my acceptance speech with the poignant words, “Chocolate milk-free for one year as of today.” The stars of Hollywood would leap to their feet, applauding, little brown-and-white striped ribbons on their lapels in support of Chocolate Milk Addiction Awareness.

Whew! Thank goodness this is real life. I gotta go. There’s a fridge calling me.

It’s saying, “You're thirsty.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thirty Things I Love About Heidi

This was supposed to be for Heidi's birthday--this year she turned twenty-nine for the SECOND time--but as I kept writing and writing it grew way beyond a list. Now it's practically a thesis on why I hit the lottery marrying her--and why the rest of you can just cry into your pillows because there will never be another one like her!

I'm about to just start talking and talking here, folks, so I suggest taking the phone off the hook, putting your feet up, and otherwise getting comfortable. The first one to whine, "Are we there yet?" gets a smack.

Part One: Family (See!? I even had to divide it up!)

1. Our first son, Jack. Future Robotic Engineer.
2. Our first daughter, Abby. Future Drama Queen.
3. Our second son, Joshua. Future Heartbreaker.

On 1 through 3: It's not just that we wouldn't have these three children if Heidi weren't such a courageous and determined mother; these children each bring joy to our lives because of the way they have been raised by Heidi. While I am away—feebly trying to win "the bread"—Heidi is tirelessly training up our two youngest (the oldest is in first grade now) in the disciplines of potty-training, manners, nutrition, first aid, and so forth. I come home and read one story to them, and suddenly I'm some sort of hero, but Heidi is there twenty-four-seven. Wow! Which brings us to...

4. Baby on the Way: No, this isn’t an announcement. It’s more like a foregone conclusion. Everybody knows—or will know now—that we don’t plan to stop having children, especially when our kids just get cuter and cuter! In fact, maybe I should just announce numbers 5, 6, and 7 while I’m at it, huh?

5. Patience: Nine years, people; ten if you count the year we dated. There ought to be a medal awarded by the President of the United States himself. I'm not saying it's difficult being married to me, but I wouldn't marry me--not if I knew back then what I know now!

6. Boundless Love: Knowing that three kids and umpteen fish and plants weren’t enough to use up all the love and patience Heidi has, we got a dog last year. Woof!

7. Forgiveness: Did I mention we got a dog last year? Woof.

8. Understanding: Sometimes Heidi gives me that look that says, “I don’t know what is the matter with you, and I’m not sure I want to know.” That’s a good thing to me, because understanding someone sometimes means not needing an explanation.

9. Consideration: I can’t explain this one; see number eight. It's mainly that she goes out of her way to be understanding about some things even BEFORE the fact--like she's somehow sensing the possibility of tension in the future, and avoiding it.

10. Commiseration: Sometimes you just need to know that someone is—or has been—as miserable as you are. I know Heidi feels my pain—nine years, people!

A special note about 5 through 10: I think that when a relationship falls apart, it falls apart for the lack of one or more of these qualities; I witnessed these qualities in Heidi before we were married, and I've seen her exhibit them countless times since. She's going to make a wonderful mother to more than just the three children we currently have--if she didn't possess these qualities, I don't think we would have had these three, let alone more.

Part Two: Home

11. Our Home: With characteristic modesty, she will say that she does not do as good a job as she would like to do taking care of our home. Well, I think she's doing a great job. No need to rehash here all the jobs a stay-at-home mother does; suffice it to say that Heidi does them all and does them well.

12. Our Dreams: It's an important distinction to say that Heidi's dreams are "our dreams" instead of just "her plans for our family." We have always wanted the same things, and we work hard together to make those things happen.

13. Creativity: You should see this girl scrapbook--or teach children--or build an art center and library for our children in the basement! Wow. Just...wow.

14. Work Ethic: I feel sad for all those couples out there who argue about who does how much more than the other; Heidi just sees something that needs to be done, so she does it. (She didn't learn that from me. My technique is to say, "Hey, Jack! You want to be 'in charge' of something?")

15. Lasagna: I know; lasagna is not a quality. Let’s just say that Heidi brought a lot more to the table (pun intended, ouch) than I did—when we married—in terms of palatable foods. Just the fact that she helped me graduate to meals involving more than three-step preparation will help keep me alive during those soon-to-come days when she kicks my lazy butt out for good. Oops! I’ve said too much!

Part Three: Work

16. Ambition and daring: Online entrepreneur, small business consultant, professional care provider, soccer mom. She's got it all. (And she's mine!)

17. Business sense: Thank goodness one of us has some.

18. Faith (In Me): It's one thing to dream big and go for it; it's another thing to fall and get back up again. It's not Heidi's falls that I'm talking about either--she has been there for me through career changes, moves, loss of family, and anything else that has knocked me down. Thanks to her, I got back up again.

Part Four: Fun

19. Those eyes, that smile, that walk, that voice: 'Nuff said, I think. Actually, no. Not enough said. I won't get into it here, but Heidi possesses certain "qualities" that have always attracted me to women; they're not the reasons that I asked her to marry me, but they sure do sweeten the deal. There. Now maybe I've embarrassed her enough.

20. Competitive spirit: Sure, we trade snippy comments when we play games; it's because we both have this competitive side. On the other hand, who wants to play Rook with a sissy?

21. Good taste in TV: You may think this shouldn't rank too high, but think about this: if you like the same shows, a one-hour TV show at the very least is one-hour spent sitting together, talking. If you don't like the same shows, a one-hour show is another hour separated from each other. Okay, so I have to put up with HGTV and Lifetime movies—as long as she doesn’t turn on that one channel(shudder).


Hey, people, come on! Are you still reading? I figured by this point, you'd have given up!

Single guys have stopped reading, because they're bored. "Ho-hum, some guy yakking about his wife, he's whipped, where are the cartoons?" Don't lie. You're thinking it; just go.

Single girls aren't buying even one third of this. "What a load of crap; he's after only one thing, and if I were her I'd check up on him! Any guy who sweet talks this much has something to hide, if you ask me!" Oh yeah? Well I DO have something to hide! I ... am a librarian!

Married men don't blog, so ... ahem.

Married women read about the first ten points and then printed this and threw it in their spouse's face, then stormed out of the house to give him time to try to figure out why he's in trouble.

If you don't fit into one of these categories ("Don't pigeonhole me!") then I'm sorry to tell you: this blog is over. I know, the title says "Thirty Things I Love About Heidi," but:

A. I can think of ten things I love about Heidi that can't go on any list anywhere, just out of sheer decency.

B. If you just can't live until you read the rest of the list, you're either OCD or reeeeeally desperate. Get a life.

C. I've been trying to post this thing for six weeks now--and as the great authors say: "Sometimes it ain't finished, but by golly it's done!" I ought to be hung for the twin crimes of missing my deadline and flat-out NOT POSTING for four weeks!

So, to make a long story short ("Too late!") I'm through here. Heidi, I love you.

Okay! Let's go to the presses, here, people! These papers don't deliver themselves!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Next Top Ten Webcomics According to Me

Yes, it's time for another edition of "WebComics I Want You to Read," otherwise entitled "People I Wish I Was If I Was A Cartoon Character." You didn't think there were only ten, did you? You did? Come on! I had to give you those other ten just to see if you were serious--this is the REAL top ten!

1. Wapsi Square by Paul "Pablo" Taylor

Monica Villareal works in a museum and has no love life--at first. Then she not only meets her boyfriend through her work, but she also inherits some mysterious beings from another era (why doesn't this ever happen to me in museums) who become her responsibility in the "real world"--one of whom is the Aztec God of Alcohol. I started reading this for the zany antics of Monica and her friends, but I stay for the next blow-you-away plot twist involving the past life of the planet we inhabit. Cute...and cursed. It's love at first click, people!

2. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner

Zach Weiner, I knight thee Sir Comedy-By-Misdirection! SMBC is a one-panel strip. In that one panel, you will be caught off guard by something funny. Then the caption will turn things around so fast you'll just be spinning and laughing like a drunk college student on Spring Break. Don't drink milk while reading this comic. Or do. But call us first. (Favorite strip: "Congratulations! It's a boy!" "What? You said you were getting an eye exam!" "Tee hee!")

3. Penny and Aggie by Gisele Lagace and T. Campbell

Don't have time to watch hours of teen drama unfold on the tube in the evenings? Try thirty seconds' worth unfolding on your monitor three times a week. It's good therapy for those of us still nursing the wounds from high school.

The two main characters are high school girls, and get ready, because here come the stereotypes: Penny is popular for her good looks; Aggie is popular for her mouth--which frequently runs away with her. If "one" is going to write about characters already so well defined by our teen culture, then "one" had better have original and insightful things to say. "One" does. That would be T. Campbell, who writes the strip and gives the characters depth.

Ms. Lagace draws, and does an equally brilliant job at that--one of the best drawn comics out there, in fact. Anyone can draw a geek or a gamer, but who can draw preppy chicks and cheerleaders--besides the "Archie" guy? Warning: this is a serial comic, and you will get hooked by a storyline. Just give in and bookmark it--you'll be back.

4. You'll Have That by Wes Molebash

Young married couples, take note: your lives are being recorded. That's what I thought when I started reading this comic. Sometimes Andy and Katie play something out that sounds cribbed from your own life--and that is why people read, right? ("We read to know we're not alone." Reference, anyone?) I think this one just plays along all the usual jokes about relationships and living with each other, but what's wrong with that? Lynn Johnston ("For Better or For Worse") has been doing it for years, and no one's after her with torches and pitchforks.

Andy and Katie are the married couple, and Steve and Emaline are the obligatory dating-couple-friends-of-the-married-couple. This is a casual comic for casual readers, but the art has a distinctive style and the jokes are at least a notch above bland. Would I steer you wrong?

5. 9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney
6. Pibgorn by Brooke McEldowney

Those of you who read the first "top ten" list I put out will remember that there was an artist who snagged two spots there, also. You have to work extra hard to earn two spots, and Brooke McEldowney does. This guy can blow you away just by drawing a line. Just a line! Or by not drawing it! (No explanation here; you'll have to read a few of his Sunday strips to see what I mean. Oh, that Bill Watterson thinks he's so cool--show him how it's done, Brooke!)

He (that's right, "he", Brooke is a dude) draws the whimsical, romantic comedy "9 Chickweed Lane" about three generations of women in strange relationships, ranging in action from the surreal to the sublime. That's no exaggeration: there are stretches of unreality followed by heart-rending scenes of realism and dialogue, and sometimes you just--oh, you'll just have to read a week's worth, or a month's worth. Unfortunately, a month's worth is all you'll get unless you subscribe to it (for free!) because of the penny-pinching syndicate. On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to live in a state where it's still in the papers, well...bully for you!

"Pibgorn" is different. And that's an understatement. It's all about fairies and magical creatures, with some crossover characters from "Chickweed" thrown in. The original story followed a fairy named Pibgorn (pronounced pibe-gorn) as she fell in love with a mortal and got in some trouble with a succubus and...well, it's complicated. More recently, time was snapped in two and Mozart switched places with a twentieth-century piano teacher. There was also the time when the army captured Pibgorn and this mad scientist opened a hole in space--um...well, it's hard to explain.

This month--hurry over and see--McEldowney is remaking "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the characters from both strips appearing in Pibgorn. The downside? He has switched to only posting Pibgorn on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (Tiny tear.) Give it a look. McEldowney will amaze and astound.

7. Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

Hazel writes a column for a magazine on the college-after-hours-twenty-something beat; her friend Jamie...does something I can't remember. And Hazel has a talking cactus. Man, I love comics like this! I don't think anyone reading this list is looking for a light of religious awakening to lead them out of darkness...and that's good, because besides being afflicted with "the demon drink" this comic also espouses the twin virtues of staying out late and cross-dressing.

This comic hasn't been around for long, so I suggest you read the whole thing from the beginning--it makes more sense that way, anyway. Warning: Hazel gets drunk, and a slingshot is NOT a slingshot. Also, the cactus wears a sombrero, but he talks with an Irish accent. If you can handle that, then proceed with all speed to Corsetto's site.

8. Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams

Completely unconcerned with being "cool" now that "geek" has become mainstream, Aaron Williams unveils the gamers at their best--or worst: around the actual gaming table. I'm not bothering with the specifics here: there are four of them, and they are not exactly Hemingway heroes. In fact, one of them isn't even really in the comic: he participates via webcam, and Williams never shows his face.

The motley crew plays Dungeons and Dragons mostly, although there are other games and trips to gaming conventions--and the odd holiday nod to keep in touch with the "real" world. Williams has some other webcomic credits, but either you know them already or you don't care. THIS comic is funny ONLY if you understand some of the references. If you understand ALL of the references, it's not funny at all. It's Mecca.

9. Pirate and Alien by Tyson Smith

Brand new strip catapulted into the top twenty by its brilliant dialogue.

Just kidding, it's all the pirate-y talk: shiver me timbers, walk the plank, and so forth. I don't know how he does it, but he does it; Tyson Smith made another endearing comic strip about an odd couple. Short version: when a pirate captain's crew mutinies and forces him to walk the plank, he is rescued from the open sea by a UFO, and he becomes the guest of an octopus-resembling space creature. The parrot is priceless. Read them all--there aren't that many. You'll laugh. (Free joke: What be a pirate's favorite letter, matey?)

10. "heart shaped skull" by Aaron Alexovich

Once again, rounding out the top ten is a comic on the edge. It can only be read from the beginning, and it will take a while, but you will be entertained, and here's why.

First of all, it starts out as a journal being kept by a juvenile delinquent witch with a small fanbase. As the story progresses, we start to see things from a third-person perspective, and we are introduced to Ms. Serenity Rose (the aformentioned witch) as well as her friends and fans (an important distinction, as she disdains the attention she gets from her "abilities"). The story-telling, in short, is apt.

Second, the artwork is distinctive--to say the least. It is at once childish and sophisticated. There is style and substance, broken up by pictures so silly and deliberately "drawn" that the whole thing stays just this side of an art project. In cave-speak: Me like art. Art good.

Third, although the whole comic seems darkly done, it rounds out (at the end of each of three episodes) with an ending that wouldn't keep a six-year-old awake at night. I don't know how to explain it any other way. It's creepy, but it stops short of evil: it's Nickelodeon Does Halloween.

Eh. Try it, don't try it, reply to this, don't reply to this. They're not payin' me anything.

P. S. Coming soon: The SECRET Top Ten--the ones I'm keeping from you. You're not ready yet, Skywalker. (Seriously.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

“I’m thinking it over. Can I call you back?”

Hey, folks. Devil here. I’ve got a deal for you.

I’ve got a billion dollars burning a hole in my pocket. Happens every day. I’m like that guy on Brewster’s Millions; I’ve gotta use it or lose it. The trouble is…I run out of ways to spend it. Oh, sure, I could spread it around and do some good with it—

But that’s not my style. I think you know that.

No, my style is a bit more flamboyant these days. Spend it all in one place, that’s me! If I can find the right person, I can make dreams come true for everyone! (Including me.)

So…here’s the situation: there’s a billion dollars to be made today by someone—maybe you—if the price is right. The only question is, “What would you be willing to do for a billion dollars?”
Come on, people, let’s get creative here. I haven’t got all day. (Okay, I do, but why put it off, right?) What’ll it be? Sell your soul? Ha! I’m kidding, we don’t really do that anymore—at least, not up front.

Let’s try something a little more subtle. Would you…embezzle from your own company? Maybe. Cheat on your spouse? I know some people who would, but I should have known you wouldn’t do anything like that. You’re too devoted and faithful to fall for that one, right? Hey—

—would you kill someone?

Maybe not.

Would you…sell drugs to kids? (I’m just tossing ideas out here, people.) Sell a false passport to a terrorist? Make a few species of animals and plants extinct? (There’s too many of them anyway. Am I right?)

Still ‘no,’ huh?

How about putting your name on a CD that’s so foul-mouthed and filthy most stores wouldn’t sell it? Just your name, that’s all—maybe your picture, too. How about this: in exchange for a billion dollars, I’ll make you into a pop superstar, and all you have to do is live an immoral lifestyle and promote drugs and sex among teenagers and small children? (They’re gonna learn it somewhere, right?) Interested?

Wow! I can see you’re a tough case. (Obi Wan has trained you well.)

Okay, here’s my final offer: I’ll give you a billion dollars if you promise me that the money will drive a wedge between you and your family, alienating you from them forever, and if you further promise to do nothing with the money that will bring anyone happiness but yourself. (It’s yours after all—why waste it?)

You ought to live the easy life after the years of sweat and toil you’ve endured. Buy a big house on an enormous piece of land, hire a full-time staff, fill the garage—no, the garages—with foreign cars, cram every inch of the house with the latest modern conveniences, hire guards to protect it all, build a huge underground bomb shelter with a lifetime supply of everything, and then lock yourself up in that womb of pampering and indulgence for the rest of your days. You’re rich—and you’re free! At last!

No? Hmm, that one always works.

Well, I just don’t understand you. Don’t you need a billion dollars? Don’t you even want it? It’s right here for the taking!

Believe me when I tell you that if you don’t take the money then someone else will. I’ve got them lined up around the block already, waiting to make a deal. I just thought I’d offer it to you first—after all, you deserve it more. These other people—they all have shady secrets in their pasts, evil deeds they did when they thought no one was looking. They’re despicable. Any one of them would jump at this money—in fact, they’d run out on the highway for it! (Hmm, maybe I’ll try that next.) That is, if you don’t want it.

Okay, you drive a hard bargain.

I’ll give you the billion dollars, and you can give it away to other people—whoever you want, friends, family, charity, church—and all you have to do is accept one of my other offers. What do you want to do: kill someone, corrupt some kids, ruin some lives?

It’s hardly an indecent proposal; look at how forgiving the public is these days! You could be a complete and total jerk to everyone you know for years, and all it would take to get back in their good graces is a few well-placed dollars and a photo op with some foreign children. (Trust me.)

Hey, how about this: you could take the money and bequeath it all to your family, and all you have to do is agree to never see them again. Ever. And I mean NEVER. Now, I don’t think you can afford to pass that one up. Do you realize what this money would mean to them? We’re talking about financial security for your loved ones—in a crazy world like this, where anything could happen, they’ll thank you for making this deal. Or, at least, they would if they ever spoke to you again—of course, that would be strictly against the rules.

Well NOW I think you’re just being selfish. So many people could benefit from your benevolence—but you’re withholding those blessings from them. You have the power to do so much good, and for the price of so little evil—evil, I might add, which already exists in the world anyway. Who would blame you for giving in just a little?

Come on! I get people to do these things all the time—and for a lot less than a billion dollars, pal! You’re really getting on my nerves with all this “holier than thou” shtick. Haven’t you ever heard of feeding the hungry? Bringing aid to the sick and the afflicted? Don’t you want to be a part of that? I could make it so easy for you.

All you have to do is sign on the dotted line.

Tell you what: you think it over. I’ll be back—maybe. But maybe tomorrow I can think of what to do with a billion dollars all by myself. And if I can’t, I’m sure I can find someone who’s an easier sell than you.

Come on, buddy, this is your last chance: what’s it gonna be?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Geek Cred

See that guy—the too-smart looking one with the prominent glasses and the in-the-ear hands-free device for his phone-slash-mp3-player? See him effortlessly switch from phone conversation to casual listening preferences with the touch of a button? See him slip another obscure device out of his pocket, check a screen, make some fast adjustment and pocket it all in the time it takes you to think, “What’s th—?” See him use his phone to snap a picture of pigeons canoodling—a picture to which he can add some text, for a truly geeky “thinking of you” pop-up card on his girlfriend’s phone? See how he is so wrapped up in his own world that you have to shout his name to get his attention?

What a geek.

You might think a look like that is easy to pull off, but it’s not. And you should try talking to the guy. “Hello,” you might say, reeking of social graces. In less than a picosecond, he steers the conversation to territorial waters—for him, computers, of course. “I’ve got a triple processor pulling simultaneous multi-threading, but it can’t keep up with the SDR necessary to run the code I compiled—I’ll just have to upgrade again.”

Guess so…geek.

Sure, he’s smart and savvy, in a Jimmy Neutron kind of way. Sure, he probably gets paid way too much just to make people feel inadequate while he’s making minor adjustments to their office PCs. Sure, he dresses like an eighth grader.

He’s got…geek cred.

It’s that quality that can’t be quantified—that “Je ne sais quois” that you feel when you want to say, “Je ne sais quois you’re talking about…geek.”

You’ve probably asked yourself, “How can I gain some geek cred?” It’s not as easy as downgrading your wardrobe and buying up half of Circuit City, preppie boy! Back in good old 1985, there were some easy in-roads to geek cred:

1. Learn the long name for your computer. (It’s not a Tandy—it’s a Tandy 82000LT BusCom with an 8-inch floppy-drive and easy-on-the-eyes amber-lit screen…geek.)

2. Reel off a seven-digit high score on fill-in-the-blank pop computer game—even if you’ve really only played it once. (Yeah, I got ten-million on Centipede, but then the counter flipped, so it says the high score is six-thousand. Beat that…geek.)

3. Clearasil.

Well, those days are over. This is the information age, geek. There’s only one way to get the goods on the geeky scene. I’ll bet you want me to tell you what it is. Forget it.

Jus’ kidding. That was me being ironic. Why? Because the key to geek cred is being a know-it-all on some obscure topic!

Better make it extra obscure though! You might think no one out there has examined all the similarities between the current Eastern Bloc political climate and the intergalactic politics on the hit Sci-Fi channel revival of “Dragonfly Battlestar Station 9.” You’d be wrong, though. (And don’t get me started.)

It could be as easy as checking out the right book in the library—preferably the one book no one else on the planet has read, such as “Mug Art: A Buyer’s Guide”. Research the subject carefully—find out everything you can about “vaccuu-forming plastics”! Every not-quite-useless topic has a geek out there waiting to embrace it—and then dreaming of making “Hair Knitting for Fun and Profit” an Olympic Sport in which he or she alone will excel! (They said you were mad. Fools. You’ll destroy them all.) There are bird call geeks, car upholstery geeks, cable collecting geeks, weird law geeks, vegetarian geeks, and even geekiness geeks—yes, that’s right! Imagine: an expert at “geek.”

He’s probably out there, somewhere, like a gunslinger, practicing away, nervously imagining the day someone comes along looking and talking better geek than he does. I can see him now, typing away in his little cubicle, the fluorescent lights making him pasty and pale, his smudged glasses perched askew on his nose, oblivious to the folly of life around him, pursuing his dream…utter geek.

That’s right! I am cementing my geek cred with this very article detailing “How To Obtain Geek Cred”! That probably blows your mind, right?