Tag Archives: geek

A girl’s guide to surviving the zombie apocalypse

So, I mentioned the other day that I have an actual plan for the zombie apocalypse. This isn’t such an odd thing these days, what with the recent popularity of zombie movies and TV shows. It’s important to note, however, that this plan has firmly been in place for at least 10 years, before the resurgence of zombie popularity. Romero got me, and he got me good. So here’s what you need to know about surviving the zombie apocalypse, my style.

1. Exodus: First things first, you need to get the fuck out of wherever you are. But you need to be smart about it. Panic is not the friend of someone who’s going to survive this. You need to plan a bit. Expect to be on foot, without easy access to food or water or communication. If you’re at home, more’s the better. Load up on non-perishables, a canteen, comfortable shoes, and whatever survival gear you can get your hands on. You’ll need at least a knife at bare minimum in the beginning. If you have a car, that’s great, but understand that you’re going to either get stuck in gridlocked traffic with everyone else fleeing, or you’re going to have to abandon the vehicle once you run out of gas or get a flat tire. The other important part of fleeing is to have an idea of where you’re going. We’ll talk about that in a bit.

2. Weaponry: Sorry, dudes, you’re going to need to kill some zombies if you want to live. And while guns are all well and good, lots of people don’t have access to them, and they require ammunition, which will eventually run out. This is a good time to get medieval. Axes and swords are excellent for your purposes here. Granted, you’re going to need to get a lot closer than with a gun, but movies don’t really show you how hard a clean head shot is, even with a decent gun and someone who knows how to handle it. Blunt force is preferable. It’s messier, sure, but it’s more of a sure thing. In the absence of an axe or sword, consider things like golf clubs, or baseball or cricket bats. You’re going to need to move up to something sharp, though, so keep that in mind.

3. Company: There’s strength in numbers, sure, but you need to be very cautious with who you choose to spend the zombie apocalypse with. They should have some sort of skill or resource that you do not, and you need to be able to trust them enough with your safety and your stuff so that you can get some rest every once in a while. Also, keep in mind everyone you ever knew is probably dead or undead. You’re going to be upset about this, but don’t go getting attached to people, because they’re just as likely to end up lurching around, trying to eat your brains, as everyone else. Be smart.

4. Stronghold: You need to figure out where you’re going. Keep in mind, anywhere that makes clear sense, like a military base, or that random castle outside of town, is likely already spoken for. What you’re looking for, ideally, is somewhere that’s on high ground (zombies don’t seem to be much for climbing), somewhere that’s fairly clear around the perimeter, so nothing can sneak up on you, and that’s easily defended by a fairly small number of people. Limited access points are helpful as well, but you can’t have everything right away. That may need to come later on.

5. Organization: You and your intrepid band of survivors need to get your shit together. You need schedules for sleeping and eating and guard duty. Someone needs to be in charge of food and supplies. And everyone needs to carry their own weight. If you aren’t contributing, you might as well just be zombie bait.

6. Ingenuity: The zombies will probably find you. I’m sorry, but it’s true. You need to come up with some clever ways of keeping them back. You have time now, and hopefully more resources, so start thinking more broadly. See what fire does. If it kills them, use it. Can you devise a trap and take out a dozen or more at a time? Get to it. Hell, have a little fun with it while you’re at it.

7. Waiting: Ok, you’ve fled, you’re stashed away, you’ve got defensive capabilities, and a pretty good system for keeping not dead or undead. At some point, the zombie herd is going to be thinned out. Don’t confuse this with being safe; just understand that eventually, there will be fewer and fewer of them. Waiting sucks, so go back to your ingenuity step and start coming up with ideas: ways to fortify your defenses, methods for improving everyday life, little things like that.

8. Rebuilding: I’m not talking about procreating here, people. Not yet, anyway. Babies are little resource suckers, and they’re useless in hand-to-hand combat. I’m talking about the fact that now that you aren’t killing the undead every few minutes, you need to start looking to the future. What’s important to remember here is that we’ve likely lost most of what makes modern life modern. We’re going to be pitched back into a mostly agrarian society, and you need to have some idea what to do. Useful skills here include: irrigation, animal husbandry, alternative energy, crop sustainability, textile manufacturing, and structural maintenance, among many others. Basically, all the skills you have now will be completely useless.

So, to recap: You need to run, you need to eat, you need a sharp weapon or six. You have to get used to being without technology, and you have to do it quickly. Be wary of other people, but accept that you’ll never survive on your own. Remember that everything is harder than it looks in the movies, and you won’t have a screenwriter to pencil in the guns a-blazin’ white knight to save you just in the nick of time. You need to save yourself. You can do it. I have faith. And if we both get out of this alive, you’re welcome to make a home for yourself in New Nonzombonia.

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Three word presidencies

So, I got bored and, after someone (jokingly, I think) suggested it to me, I decided to sum up each of the American presidencies in three words. I tried not to skew too much one way or the other politically, but I have bias, and sometimes it shows. And Taft was really difficult, without somehow making fat jokes or figuring out how to sum up that he was the only president to serve in all three branches of the federal government in only three words. So, yes, I probably missed a lot of relevant information, but three words, people. Here it is:

  1. George Washington: America’s brand new!
  2. John Adams: Federalist; fought France.
  3. Thomas Jefferson: Louisiana Purchase; Monticello.
  4. James Madison: War of 1812.
  5. James Monroe: Monroe Doctrine; Missouri.
  6. John Quincy Adams: Diplomat; first “junior.”
  7. Andrew Jackson: Old Hickory; nullification.
  8. Martin Van Buren: Trail of Tears.
  9. William Henry Harrison: Shortest. Presidency. Ever.
  10. John Tyler: Declared himself President.
  11. James K. Polk: Got shit done.
  12. Zachary Taylor: Died in office.
  13. Millard Fillmore: Cabinet all quit.
  14. Franklin Pierce: Screwed shit up.
  15. James Buchanan: Dred Scott; secession.
  16. Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation; assassinated.
  17. Andrew Johnson: First President impeached.
  18. Ulysses S. Grant: Reconstruction, nepotism, scandals.
  19. Rutherford B. Hayes: Great Railroad Strike.
  20. James Garfield: 200 days, assassinated.
  21. Chester A. Arthur: Strengthened the Navy.
  22. Grover Cleveland: First, government reform.
  23. Benjamin Harrison: Grover Cleveland’s placeholder.
  24. Grover Cleveland: Second, tariff and gold.
  25. William McKinley: Spanish-American War.
  26. Theodore Roosevelt: “Softly; big stick.”
  27. William Howard Taft: Reclusive trust-buster.
  28. Woodrow Wilson: World War I.
  29. Warren G. Harding: Really pretty awful.
  30. Calvin Coolidge: “Silent”; laissez-faire.
  31. Herbert Hoover: Crash! Great Depression.
  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt: World War II.
  33. Harry S. Truman: “Buck stops here.”
  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Cold War; Asia
  35. John F. Kennedy: Cuba, integration, Zapruder.
  36. Lyndon B. Johnson: Great Society; Vietnam.
  37. Richard M. Nixon: “Not a crook”
  38. Gerald Ford: Accession, pardon, Vietnam.
  39. James (Jimmy) Carter: Better after presidency.
  40. Ronald Reagan: Reaganomics, Cold War.
  41. George H. W. Bush: USSR, Gulf, recession.
  42. William J. Clinton: Jazz, Whitewater, BJs.
  43. George W. Bush: Dumb and dangerous.
  44. Barack Obama: Not over yet.

10 geek girl gift ideas under $30

Stumped on gift ideas for the geek girl in your life? Don’t have much to spend, but want to show your geek that you really “get” them? There are a zillion gift guides out there, even a whole bunch specifically for geeks, but more ideas never hurt! Here are some awesome geeky gifts that won’t bankrupt you:

1. TARDIS soap by Luxury Lane soaps, $8.99

Perfect for any Doctor Who fan, with the added bonus of supporting a true small business that produces handmade goods. This soap is on gift guides all over the place, and rightfully so, because it’s awesome.

 

 

2. The Self-Rescuing Princess T-shirt from ThinkGeek, $18.99

Honestly, just about anything from ThinkGeek would be a big hit with most geeks in your life, but for the geek girl who kicks ass and takes names, and doesn’t need some bumbling man to get her out of a jam, this T-shirt says it all.

 

3. Boba Fett hat from karenjcreations on Etsy, $21.

Everyone needs a winter hat, so why not let the geek girl in your life show the world what a bad-ass bounty hunter she is? (This shop has other Star Wars hats available, like R2D2 and Stormtrooper.)

 

4. Star Trek Federation soap by GEEKSOAP, $5.50

Yes, more soap. Soap is awesome, it’s inexpensive, and when it’s geek-oriented, it’s even cooler. This Star Trek soap comes in yellow, blue, and the expendable red shirt.

 

5. Firefly, The Complete Series from Amazon, $30.99

OK, I fudged the “under $30” thing by a buck here, but it’s so worth it. Any true sci-fi geek should have this in their DVD collection.

 

 

 

6. Grammar Monster buttons from vozamer on Etsy, 10 for $8

Is there a word nerd on your shopping list? These buttons will help her illustrate the important things, like, “Respect apostrophes” and “I use capital letters.” Also available as magnets.

 

 

7. Toaster T-shirt from Glarkware, $15-$22

There are many copies. And they have a plan. Your geek girl can show how she really feels about those frakking robots with this T-shirt.

 

8. Why it’s better to pretend you don’t know anything about computers poster from The Oatmeal, $11.95

Any computer geek who constantly gets asked by friends or family members to fix their computers will surely appreciate this poster.

 

 

9. Stealth Laptop Case by perpetualkid, $24.99

 

Looks like a regular padded envelope, but is really an icognito case for your laptop. Fully padded and lined.

 

 

10. xkcd book, volume 0 from xkcd, $18

The Internet’s geekiest and funniest webcomic, in book compilation form. Added bonus that the printer’s profits will be given to the charity Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and gender equality in education around the world.

 

 

(Just a wee disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these companies or products in any way except, in some instances, as a satisfied customer. I haven’t been bribed or paid or plied with free products in any way, shape, or form. I’m not, like, opposed to that *coughfreestuffcough*, but I would disclose it if it were the case.)

 

A geek girl’s recap of NYCC ’10

I spent this past weekend in New York for New York Comic Con. For those of you who read my blog who aren’t big old nerds, NYCC is the East Coast nerd and geek mecca, held once a year, combining comics, video games, science fiction, pop culture, and pretty much any other possible nerdy pursuit you can imagine. By now (one day after the last day of the con), a zillion people have already rehashed what got talked about on the panels, who was there, who’s releasing what when, the big news, the tiny little details, and pretty much anything else. The best I can do is walk you through my experience, as the random fan on the show floor, geeking out over everything, but with no special access or insight. (Although my con badge would lead you to believe otherwise, considering it said “Special Access” in big letters. All that meant, though was that I could skip the huge entrance line and there was a neat little lounge to escape the crowds and charge my phone and drink free water, which in itself was worth the extra cost.)

Friday: We arrived into NYC at around 11 and dropped our luggage off at the hotel. We then headed down to the Javits Center, which was about a 10 minute walk away. As we got closer, I noticed people in costumes more and more often, which, if nothing else, told me we were headed in the right direction. We entered the convention center and found the VIP line pretty quickly. There was about an hour before the doors opened, so we lined up and waited. More and more people in costume filtered by us, some in very elaborate superhero costumes, some in half-assed components of easily recognizable movie, comic, or TV characters, and some very specific and well-executed anime characters. (NYCC and the New York Anime Festival are rolled in together, which is maybe not the best idea, but I’ll touch on that later.)

They let us into the show, and we headed up the escalator to the show floor. My husband and friend made a bee-line to get tickets to signings with Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman, and I sort of wandered a bit. An incredibly impressive group of Predators walked by us, and one leered at me (and you know it’s obvious if I can tell you’re leering in a full giant body costume and full face mask). As much as we like to think we’ve progressed in geek culture, being accepting and respectful of women in a setting like this is still not as universal as it should be.

After wandering the show floor, talking to booth employees, taking some pictures, playing some games, and accumulating some of the massive quantities of free stuff available, we made a plan to meet at the IGN theater to camp out through the DC comics panel so we could have seats for the two Adult Swim panels: Robot Chicken and The Venture Brothers. And that was where my aggravation with the con “organization” began. I couldn’t enter the IGN theater through the main entrance without a different special pass. However, the employees (primarily volunteers) manning the doors couldn’t tell me where I could enter. So I wandered. I wandered a lot. I asked more people in official T-shirts. I didn’t get the same answer twice. Finally, a fellow con-goer discovered the door to the giant holding pen for the theater and called out to everyone in the hallway where it was. Thank you, random guy in a Green Lantern T-shirt!

The DC panel was good, with footage from “Superman/Shazam!” and “All Star Superman.” I’ll come right out with it that I’m more of a pop culture/sci-fi geek than a comics geek, but I still enjoyed the comic stuff I saw. The Robot Chicken panel is almost certainly up on YouTube already, but they had some great footage from both the upcoming season and their next Star Wars special. Macauley Culkin was on the panel for some reason (he’s done some voice work with them), along with RC co-creator Matthew Senreich and Clare Grant (Seth Green’s wife and a member of Team Unicorn),  but Seth Green was obviously the “voice” of the panel, and he was funny and really engaging, and interacted well with the audience. I was beyond excited for the Venture Brothers panel, and Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick (later joined by Michael Sinterniklaas, who does a great deal of the voice work on the show) were funny, self-deprecating, and totally awesome to watch. You’ll have to track down the details of the panel elsewhere, because I was just transfixed, glassy-eyed and grinning the whole time like the kids who got to meet their favorite comic superheroes.

We capped off Friday with the Geek Girls Network Tweet-Up, where we had some drinks, listened to some music, and I was totally socially awkward as I always am in that kind of situation. It was a great time, though, and special thanks to Kristin from GGN for putting it all together.

Saturday: I started my day on Saturday by waiting on a really really long line for a Venture Brothers signing with Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick. I got asked approximately 7 zillion times what we were standing in line for. I guess I have a friendly face? (I don’t, but I was the person who consistently got asked.) Here continued my aggravation with offical con organization. The line got pretty long and unwieldy, and a few volunteers came by and started freaking out and yelling at people to get against the wall to clear up space. Like, they were already in full panic without stopping at “calm assertiveness” first. This was sharply contrasted by the Adult Swim employee who walked calmly down the line, handing out tickets for the signing, answering questions and joking around with people, keeping order and being authoritative without being a dick.

The signing was probably the highest point of my weekend. Through a series of planning mishaps and my desire not to be an asshole and cut the line, my husband ended up about 30 people ahead of me. He apparently told Doc and Jackson this, and told them to mess with me, and they did. As soon as I got in that room (about 45 minutes later), they started joking around with me, making small talk, being generally awesome and gracious, and we had a nice chat about Dr. Girlfriend, making sacrifices for your spouse, and they were kind enough to take a picture with me. Celebrities who treat their fans well always warm my heart and make me appreciate their work that much more.

The rest of Saturday was pretty much walking around the show floor, popping into the IGN theater for a panel or two, and just being generally overwhelmed. We sat in on panels for The Thing and Hannah, both of which look like good movies. There was an excellent “Women of Battlestar Galactica” panel, featuring Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Nicki Clyne, and Michelle Forbes. I was anticipating an uncomfortable level of audience creepiness, but with a few exceptions, people had good, non-creepy questions, and there were some excellent questions about feminism, sci-fi, and the role of women in BSG. All the panel participants were friendly and engaging, and Michelle Forbes fielded most of the heavier questions about feminism and gender roles. (As a side note, everyone knows that Tricia Helfer is beautiful, but in person, she’s intimidatingly good-looking. Definitely not a “looks better on film” actor. And she and Katee Sackhoff were laughing and goofing around the whole time, which was fun to watch.)

Saturday was sold out, and being at capacity just meant that there were way too many people crammed into a small space, and it got to be very not fun for me. No one knew where to go, booth employees were starting to get snippy with con-goers, and people were just generally pushy. My annoyance with the official con staff was capped off when we stood in line for 45 minutes for a Comedy Central panel, and an NYCC staffer pulled us out of our place in line to straighten out and manage the queue, and managed to lose us our place in line, at which point, I fully admit that I stormed off swearing rather than argue the point and get our place back.

We wandered into the Minori Chihara concert, which proved more than ever that I’m old and out of touch and really do not get modern anime and J-pop. In general, the consensus, from both sides, seemed to be that fans would be better served if Comic Con and the Anime Festival were split up. There was a fair amount of tension between the “comic nerds” and the “anime kids,” and the crowding issues really didn’t help anything.

Sunday: Sunday was “Kids Day,” which, for anyone who knows me, just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Oddly enough, though, it was the most laid-back day, and since the kids were all pretty well corralled into the “safe” areas, it was way less congested than I expected. The only thing on my agenda for Sunday was the Walking Dead panel. The three of us staked out seats in the IGN very early (and sat through a surprisingly not-awful M. Night Shaymalan panel), and it’s a good thing we did, because there was a near-riot for people waiting to get in right before the panel. The panel was awesome, and the show looks amazing. (It premieres on Halloween on AMC- watch it!) The panel consisted of comic creator Robert Kirkman, director Frank Darabont, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, and six of the main cast members. They showed six minutes of exclusive footage, and teased up a lot of what’s to come on the series. Great panel, and it did its job, which was get me even more pumped up to watch the show.

After the Walking Dead panel, we wandered back upstairs to cram one last hour of show floor time in before closing. I finally caught up with Kristin of Geek Girls Network, and was reminded how much I love meeting people who I’m already friends with through various Internet outlets. At 5:00 sharp, Comic Con employees and volunteers and Javits Center employees began, shall we say, emphatically telling people to, essentially, GTFO. We lingered an extra minute to grab a few last-minute pictures, and were rewarded by the cast of The Walking Dead strolling right past us. At which point, I looked up, saw Norman Reedus, who I’ve loved since Boondock Saints, squealed something unintelligible, and thankfully, my husband had the presence of mind to chase him down and ask if he’d take a picture with me, which he did quite graciously even though I turned into a stammering, giggling fangirl. And then we left and had a delicious Thai dinner, where we ended up chatting about con stuff with the table of people across from us.

To recap: Really great and gracious guests and celebrities; way too crowded at times; very poor communication between staff, volunteers, and attendees; could probably stand to split up NYCC and NYAF; some really good but mostly “meh” cosplay; and my feet and legs are KILLING me. I need to physically prepare better next time, and con organizers need to iron out the fairly obvious and substantial kinks in their system.

No more Ensign Sexypants: female sci-fi characters who don’t suck

Being a female character in sci-fi can be a tough gig. You’re either one-dimensional eye candy whose only defining features are contained in your spandex uniform top, or you’re the most ridiculous Mary Sue in existence; the badass who’s good at everything, beautiful, smart, tough, and sassy. If you need a flaw, hmm, unlucky in love, maybe? Finding a well-written, well-acted, fully developed (in the character creation sense, you pervs) female sci-fi character is harder than you think. Sci-fi has always been progressive: in the storylines, in the creation of technology, with world-building and species invention; but sci-fi writers, with a few exceptions, have often failed their female characters, and, by extension, their female audiences. Here are some characters who defy the trend:

-Laura Roslin (BSG): I have rarely had love for a TV character as much as I have for Roslin. She’s simultaneously kind and cunning, manipulative and generous, vulnerable and strong, and she loves to airlock people and/or Cylons. She’s led astray from time to time, she plays the game, she makes mistakes, sometimes huge ones, but still remains solidly Roslin. Her relationship with Adama Sr. is one of the most realistic, most touching, and most heart wrenching partnerships I can think of. Her ruthlessness in dealing with her various nemeses and annoyances, most notably Baltar and Zarek, is inspiring and a little scary all at once. Not to mention, in a cast of young, unreasonably attractive women, Mary McDonnell not only holds her own, but elevates the standard for beautiful and captivating, while being a few years past the Hollywood ideal of a leading lady.

-Samantha Carter (Stargate SG-1): Carter got off to a bad start; I’ll admit that. Her first few episodes made me cringe. Her dialogue was forced and awful, and she was really pretty annoying. She got better, though. Much, much better, as far as I’m concerned. She was a little too awesome at times: she solved all of the problems, she was the rational one, the smart one, the one to fix everything just in the nick of time. Carter still managed to avoid being one-dimensional. She had love interests, friendships, hobbies, and dorky pursuits. She carried traits of her entire team: the military/warrior mindset of O’Neill and Teal’c, the humanity and love of science and knowledge of Daniel Jackson, the diplomacy and leadership of General Hammond, and the heart of Dr. Fraiser. She was completely unapologetic about being a geek, and while she was often a bit of a know-it-all, no one was ever surprised that the pretty blonde woman was the one with the answers.

-Zoe Washburne (Firefly): My love for Zoe is pretty much boundless. Sure, she’s got a lot of that tomboy badassery going on, she’s a crack shot, she makes even Jayne look like a sissy, but Joss Whedon (who has a pretty good track record with female characters, for the most part) actually made her a person on top of all that. She’s got a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Her marriage is realistic, with give and take and sweet little moments of humor and affection. Her instincts are military, but she has an inclination toward the nurturing that she doesn’t try to hide. She worries about the crew. She focuses on the people as well as the details. I love that she’s not the usual “under the tough-as-nails exterior lies a soft, squishy, heart of gold.” She manages to mix the heart in with the toughness, the humor in with the strategy, and she doesn’t put on a front. She’s all of who she is, all of the time.

-Aeryn Sun (Farscape): Aeryn, while being in possession of the aforementioned “tough-as-nails exterior,” still has one of the most compelling redemption and development arcs in modern sci-fi. Over the course of the series, she is forced to question everything she had believed to be true for her entire life. She is thrown into a complex group situation, where she has to interact with people (and, you know, not-people) in a non-military context for the first time pretty much ever. She never loses her general badassness, but, over time, her fragility and uncertainties surface, and she has to figure out how to reconcile the person she is becoming with the person she’s always been. Plus, she can pilot a Prowler like no one else.

-Donna Noble (Doctor Who): Donna, of all of the recent companions, partially owes her place on this list to being the only female companion who is both older than 25 and not in love with the Doctor. Companion as potential love interest can only go so far before I’m just rolling my eyes in annoyance. More than that, though, Donna is AWESOME. I know that’s not a universally held opinion, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s such a good character. She’s the Doctor’s equal in many ways. She’s his friend, his companion in the truest sense of the word. She’s resourceful, and brave, but she’s far from perfect. Occasionally overconfident and judgmental, often shrill, and intermittently completely exasperating, Donna still manages to be a real person, even while she’s saving the day/world/universe/all of time and space. She’s a temp! And she’s a really good one! She calls people out on their bullshit, whether it’s her boss and coworkers, her mother, the Doctor, or a bunch of Daleks. Plus, anyone who loves her grampa that much has a special place in my heart. (Side note: Were I to ever make a list of the best sci-fi grandfathers, it would pretty much begin and end with Wilf.)

As a point of interest, after I finished writing this, I did a quick Google search for “Sci-fi women characters,” with several variations, mostly because I like to see how my ideas line up with other people examining the same topic, and also to make sure I’m not ganking someone else’s ideas (even unintentionally). Want to know what I found? “Hottest sci-fi women.” “Sexy sci-fi woman characters.” “Hottest sci-fi girls.” “Sci-fi fantasy woman costumes.” Oh, boy. We still have so far to go.

The mystique of the girl geek

As I’ve said before, I’ve always called myself a “girl geek” or a “nerd girl.” In the strange mix of sci-fi,  grammar obsession, zombie movies, computer parts, and feminism that is my brain, it’s recently floated to the surface that maybe I should take a look at those labels. So I’ve been wondering lately, why the qualifier? Why do women who enjoy traditionally “geeky” pursuits need a special label? Why can’t we just be geeks? I’ve come up with a couple of theories:

-Geekery (geekism? geekishness?) is still widely perceived as a male characteristic. Which is really strange, because there are so many women who would identify, or be identified, as geeks. There are a huge number of women who enjoy video games, sci-fi, computer programming, comic books, and other traditionally “geeky” interests, yet we’re still looked upon as some kind of elusive beings, the stuff of legends, rarely seen in person. That’s a load of bullshit. Women have interests just as varied and intellectual as men, but it’s still seen as unusual or remarkable in some way.

-Unfortunately, even in this day and age, men are people and women are women. “Male” is the default. So if a woman wants to identify or categorize herself, she’d better make sure to be clear: she’s not a “geek.” She’s a “geek girl.” Like a different species.

-We still have something to prove. How many female gamers have gender-neutral gamertags or male avatars? And how many did that because by identifying yourself as a woman, you open yourself up to not only the ridiculous and often horrifying treatment you get from other (male) gamers, but because when you play as a woman, you have to be better, faster, more aggressive, and more skilled than the guys who are playing? You’re a girl, so you’d better be exceptional if you want to get into the clubhouse. Guys are allowed to be mediocre. If not, it’s because they’re still getting used to the game, or they’re having an off day. If a girl is mediocre, it’s because she’s a girl.

-We want to set ourselves apart. We’re not “those girls.” We’re not vapid and stupid and concerned with superficial pursuits. That’s all well and good, except it’s self-defeating. By painting the female default that way, we’re making it harder on ourselves to show that being intellectual or nerdy or fun is normal. It’s not unusual or weird. Not to mention, I find very few guys who feel it necessary to justify that they like video games and Star Wars as well as being sports fanatics and gearheads. People are complex. I can lose an entire day watching a Firefly marathon and still spend an hour at Sephora looking for the perfect neutral eye shadow. I can build a computer or a network from the ground up and still get pissed if I break a nail in the process. I’m allowed to be multi-dimensional.

-We think it gets us respect. And, to an extent, it does. A little bit of nerd cred never hurts, and can be a huge asset in certain situations. Sometimes it catches people off guard, and that can be an asset too. It’s a little insulting to be judged on looks or gender first, and then intelligence as an afterthought, but it happens all the time.

-Guys like it. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes. No, I don’t personally care if guys like it, as I’m married and my husband is perfectly happy with my current level of nerdiness. However, the “hot girl gamer” archetype is so pervasive that it’s almost a joke. Since I mentioned Firefly already (and will do so whenever I have a chance), I’ll use this example. I follow Nathan Fillion on Twitter. I love Nathan Fillion. If Nathan Fillion ever retweeted or followed me, I’d devote a week of blog posts to subjects of his choosing. Recently, he tweeted: “Help me settle a bet! Hot girls play Halo! I know at least 5! Back me up, @Rileah!” (Rileah being Rileah Vanderbilt, a member of “Team Unicorn,” a group of very good-looking women who recently made a video parody to prove that geek girls do exist.) He got tons of replies; I’d guess hundreds, if not more than a thousand, many with pictures to prove it. Here’s my question, though: why does it matter if the girls are hot? Is it because a good-looking girl is made even more attractive by being interested in “male” pursuits? Does it not “count” when girls who aren’t traditionally beautiful-looking play FPSs because they’re doing it for their own enjoyment, not to impress dudes? I’m not trying to single out Nathan Fillion, but he brought up an interesting point, one that comes up all the time: do hot girls have more credibility if they’re geeks? Or do geeks have more credibility if they’re hot girls? Why can’t women just like to shoot things without trying to get attention for being a girl who shoots things?

    One of these days, I hope we can progress far enough that geeks are geeks, regardless of gender, and that people will stop being surprised when girls are smart and interesting and multi-faceted. In the meantime, I’ll be in good company with some really awesome girl geeks.

    Some great girl geek sites and blogs:

    Geek Girl Diva
    Frag Dolls
    Geek Girls Network
    Nerds in Babeland
    Geek with Curves

    Nerd girl essentials: sci-fi TV and movie division

    I’m a nerd. It’s not a secret. I’m also a geek, and often a bit of a dork, but I’m not ashamed of any of that. I was even a nerd before all the cool kids were doing it. I’m nerdy, old-school. And one of the main reasons I am the way I am today is because I’ve watched a lot of science fiction. I’ve also read a ton of science fiction, but that’s a whole separate and unbelievably extensive list. I’ve compiled my top ten sci-fi movies and TV shows. In some cases, it’s not necessarily the quality of the show or movie, but how much it influenced how I think about things and look at the world. In other cases, things made this list becasue they are just ridiculously fucking good. Some of these are probably best considered fantasy rather than sci-fi, but it’s my blog, and I’ll genre mix if I want to. Zombie movies, while among my favorite forms of entertainment ever, are also a totally separate list. Watch these things:

    1. Firefly/Serenity: This TV series was part of the original Joss Whedon trifecta: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. (Dollhouse came much later.) I watched, and loved, Buffy and Angel, but Firefly has my heart. It’s most often described as a “space western,” but that does it such a disservice. Amazing cast, amazing writing, a good balance of humor and drama, and some pretty in-depth and well-planned world building. Unfortunately, Firefly was totally fucked over by Fox (almost a decade later, and fans will never ever stop making mention of that fact), and only fourteen episodes were made, only eleven of which aired. The final three episodes were released, along with a feature film (Serenity), and it will probably never be replaced as my favorite TV show ever.
    2. Doctor Who: Don’t let the fact that there have been about four zillion seasons of this show and that eleven people have played the (same) main character scare you: this show is completely fucking awesome. The series was “rebooted” in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston taking on the role of the Doctor (the main character is called just “the Doctor.” although when referring to the various incarnations, it’s usually easier to call them by their numbers: Eccleston is Nine, David Tennant is Ten, and Matt Smith is the current Doctor, Eleven). It’s funny, it’s campy, the dialogue is hilarious, and it’s made me cry more than once. Per season.
    3. The Empire Strikes Back: By far, the best out of the Star Wars movies. Good sci-fi is one thing, but it takes really great sci-fi to be considered a “great” movie, regardless of genre. I choose to pretend that the “prequels” were just mediocre fanfiction that somehow got produced. Empire is where it’s at.
    4. Dune: Yes, the book was ten thousand times better. Yes, the movie was pretty terrible. I DON’T CARE AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. Patrick Stewart! Kyle MacLachlan! Sting! The film was visually appealing, and the very first time I saw it, I didn’t know enough about movies to know it sucked; I just knew that one of my favorite books was a movie and I loved it. I still do.
    5. Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rewatching it twenty years later, yes, it’s dated and more than a little cheesy. But it’s soooo good. It was then; it still is. And you may be starting to notice that having Patrick Stewart in your cast is a good way to make it onto this list. Out of all the Star Trek series and movies, this is easily my #1. It’s more entertaining and less heavy than some of the later series, and I never could get into the original series. TNG is king of the Treks, as far as I’m concerned.
    6. Farscape: Here’s how good this series is: I’m almost positive I haven’t seen all of the episodes, and it still makes the list. A kick-ass female main character who isn’t a caricature, a male lead who is not always the hero, secondary and tertiary characters that are fully realized and incredibly well-written, and complex and intricately planned world building. Even though this series still has a loyal, one might say rabid, following, it never really got the recognition I think it deserved.
    7. Battlestar Galactica: The new one. Although it did, admittedly, fall to shit at the end, this series was all of the things good sci-fi should be: gritty, smart, depressing, a little spiritual, and a really harsh study of human nature. BSG was a good enough show that the fact that its cast was 95% unrealistically good-looking (sorry, Edward James Olmos, but you’re still a fucking incredible actor) didn’t detract from the writing. I wasn’t crazy about how it wrapped up, but getting there was really, really good.
    8. Stargate SG-1: Predictable story lines? Absolutely. Really cheesy special effects? Always. Still one of the most enjoyable sci-fi series to date? In my book, yes. I prefer the original team (Jack O’Neill, Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Teal’c, with General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser), but I liked the show enough that later-season cast substitutions never really bothered me. SG-1’s first spinoff Stargate:Atlantis was also a lot of fun. And neither series ever really pretended to be anything it wasn’t.
    9. Futurama: Being a cartoon isn’t a disqualifier here. It’s hilarious. It fucks with most sci-fi tropes without really insulting the source material. And I invent reasons to say “Who smells like freaking porpoise hork?” on a regular basis. Special category for the episode “Jurassic Bark,” which has the dubious distinction of having one of the only scenes in the history of TV that makes me cry every damn time I see it.
    10. Eureka: One word? Underrated. There’s a big focus on the “science” part of science fiction in this show, but the acting is good, the story lines are engaging, if a little predictable, the cast is diverse in a ton of ways, and it’s really just consistently good and almost always guaranteed to be entertaining. I particularly like to recommend this to people who have a hard time with sci-fi, because it’s very relatable, and there are a lot of good stand-alone episodes that don’t require any investment in the seasonal story arcs.

    (Also, no Nerd Girl post could be complete without MC Chris:)