Thursday, September 5, 2019

Oh My! (Elliott)

Good afternoon everyone! I have a bit of news for you all. I wasn't at Best Day last week, because I was in Atlanta, Georgia for Dragon Con, a multi-genre convention for nerds of all types that's been around for over thirty years. The convention itself is sprawled across five different hotels and one wholesale marketplace in downtown Atlanta, some of them connected with sky bridges. About 85,000 people attended Dragon Con, which is the highest number they've ever had, and the convention itself hosted hundreds of panels, talks, contests, parties and other events. Dragon Con is crowded, hyper, and you have to run around the city to see a fraction of everything you want to see, even if you do stick to a specific lecture track, but it was some of the most fun I'd had since I went to Otakon in high school.
  I was lucky enough to see former Stark Trek actor George Takei and take a picture with him. I also got to meet his husband Brad Takei née Altman, who said "Here's your half-second with George Takei." I promised him I'd milk it for all it was worth.

Before that, I went to a Q&A panel hosted by Takei, and he talked a lot about the first Star Trek conventions he'd ever attended. The first was a humble gathering of about twelve fans. He was especially surprised because they still wanted to gather even though Star Trek had been cancelled. The second was a convention in New York. Initially, he couldn't believe that they actually had the resources to rent out a convention center, host him, and feed him (he said he liked to eat.) It wasn't until he confirmed that Gene Roddenberry had also been invited that he decided to go himself.

All throughout the convention were scores of older fans. Fans who grew up with the original Star Trek wearing costumes from the original era. Metaphorical golden girls who literally dressed up as the Golden Girls. Multiple generations attending in costume. Video game panels that talked about controllers that accommodated age-related decline marketed to “Baby Boomers who still want to play games.”

And that got me thinking about nerdiness and pop culture in general. What were once considered useless fads or childish pursuits are now culturally relevant and studied in schools. Neuroscientists bond with their young patients over Super Mario Bros. Our older relatives relate to the Millennial cast of The Big Bang. Parents are introducing their children to Pokémon and Dragonball. People who grew up in the sixties are now in their sixties, and they're celebrating with David Bowie themed birthday parties. The rock music that parents used to think would corrupt their children is now seen as harmless "dad rock." Even the term "nerd" has shifted from insult to compliment through the passage of time. So now I wonder: What will become of nerd culture? How will pop culture change throughout the years? What games, shows and music will become old and lame? It only seems appropriate to make this week's story a musing on the changing trends of the youth, told through the lens of an older pop culture icon.

Elliot Doomes
What's Your Logic?

What I was going to write about today? I was going to use me talking to me as another person.
I have observed some things that seem to defy logic, so I thought the opinion of someone who is remembered for his pure logic, the one and only Mr. Spock. I loved watching Star Trek back in the day. My favorite character was Mr. Spock because he could reach logical conclusions without becoming overly emotional. You wouldn’t want to lie to him.
“Mr. Spock, I have observed individuals, no gender bias intended going through a clothing store and purchase what is known as a baseball cap. The front of it has the bill to protect their eyes from the harmful beams of sunlight. Also, to protect their nose from being sunburned. After making this purchase of protection, immediately upon leaving the store, they put the cap on backwards, so how say you, Mr. Spock?!”
“To make a purchase of something for protections and not use it for the purpose intended is illogical. Illogical and unreasonable. Perhaps, this person is thinking the way his head is turned, possible suffering from premature dementia!”
“There is another observation. I could use your logical interpretation. An individual goes into a clothing store and purchases a pair of slacks, which comes with loopholes for a belt to cinch the pants at the waistline. However, individuals would loosen the belts so the pants fall to just above the hip level showing their underwear and sometimes even parts of their buttocks. How say you, Mr. Spock?”
“Absolutely totally illogical not to use things for their intended purpose. Is not normal and without reason.”
And I said to him, perhaps the socially abnormal has become the norm. They say, ‘be yourself’, but sometimes that’s not good advice. I’m not the same guy I was ten-fifteen years ago. I’ve changed and I’m still evolving. I recently heard that baggy clothes were supposed to symbolize your toughness. That they were supposed to be hand-me-downs, and the bigger the clothes the bigger your brothers. I don’t get that at all. Used to wear hand-me-downs and I hated them!
No answer. He gave no reply. He turned and walked away. Thank you, Mr. Spock for your patience and your exercise in logistics!
See, now I’ll think of one thought and that’ll lead to another one and another one, I should’ve said, I should’ve done, I should’ve thought, and so on and on and on. Things that used to amuse me, I don’t see them worth it anymore.

Do you know an older bud who dressed up for conventions when they were young? Maybe you're related to Paula Smith, the author of "A Trekkie's Tale" who coined the phrase Mary-Sue? Send us their stories (and fan-fiction) through this form.  I myself have posted stories about about targets, guns, potatoes, stubborn babies, and one about the Rocky Horror Picture Show. And if you want to hear more stories from older nerds, click here to participate in our tenth anniversary celebration, Friday November 8th, 10AM-4PM. Groups of students and families (home-schooled or otherwise) can get special rewards for contributing. Or if you’re looking to bring our storytelling experiences to your workplace, check out our lunch and learn.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri