His adventures have been seen here before, but Indiana Potato Head has been at it again…
So last night my friend Sudge and I were talking about the DC Comics reboot/relaunch that has caused a lot of excitement and consternation amongst geekdom. We got on to books that would never get published, one of which was our idea for the greatest story ever to feature Detective Chimp.
(If you can’t be bothered to follow that link, Detective Chimp is one of DC’s more obscure characters, basically a talking chimp who is also, well, a detective. He has a drink problem. He also wears a deerstalker. Detective Chimp is awesome.)
Anyway, I won’t go into detail about the plot we came up with, as it may yet materialise as a fanfic project or something, suffice to say it’s film noir meets Indiana Jones with added monkeys. And heck, as this is a comic character we’re talking about, I’ve even done some art:
And yes, I know you’re thinking we must be completely mad, but we had fun and it was a nice moment of creativity. I guess it was also an object lesson – we’re gifted with imagination, creativity, all sorts of talents that I’ve mentioned before, and it’s a shame not to use them. Someone even used used those talents to invent Detective Chimp.
So if you’ve got an idea, voice it. Write it, draw it, discuss it. Just get it out there. There’s no point keeping ut locked up inside when it has the potential to bless an audience, even if that’s just one person.
And all that’s true, even if it does involve too many monkeys.
I am a self-confessed geek. I’m sitting here in an old denim jacket with the arms cut off, and stitched onto the back of this jacket is ‘Lion’. If you don’t know why this is geeky, it’s because Lion was the name of the group who did the metal version of the Transformers theme song for the original animated movie. The fact that I own a jacket like this is geeky. The fact that I’m proud to own a jacket like this is even geekier.
Some history: the word ‘geek’ derives from a Germanic word, ‘geck’, meaning foolish or crazy. This became attached to circus freaks (‘gecken’), before making its way across the Atlantic, whereupon it mutated into ‘geek’ and described a sideshow performer whose, um, speciality was biting the heads of live chickens.
Anyway, ‘geek’ entered the high school lexicon, where it became an insult aimed at the weird kids, the ones with lesser social skills. This being high school, it also became attached to the smart kids, or the introverts, or the outsiders, the ones who preferred computers and sci-fi to football.
Of course, many of these kids became successes after high school – cue Bill Gates – so when computer culture took off in the nineties, geek was reclaimed as a self-identifier, a badge of honour. After all, geeks were tge innovators, the puoneers, the ones who took all their smarts and changed the world.
That shouldn’t come as too mich of a surprise, because geeks see the world differently. For instance, look at this picture:
If you’re not a geek, you’ll look at that picture and say “Oh look, plastic cutlery.” A geek looks at that and says “Haha! May the forks be with you!” It’s all a matter of perspective. You have know idea how excited my friends and I were when we discovered a room at work called the Transformer House. You may be thinking that’s just where they keep various electrical infrastructure, and that’s fair enough; we were making jokes about Megatron for weeks. And by “weeks” I mean “still are.”
We also make lists. I once went to a real ale festival, which was an experience considering I don’t drink. I wanted to make myself useful though, so, taking the scores out of ten that everyone was awarding the various ales, I predicted the next one they should try out. I’m confident in my working, and it would have made an excellent contribution to the evening, were it not for the fact that the perfect ale was, in fact, locked in the cellar and everyone was too drunk to ask for it to be unlocked. Epic fail, as we say on the internet; however, the picture below is the end result of an evening’s hard work:
Okay, so I’m aware that this is making geeks look weird, and that’s unfair considering that this should be a day of celebration. I spent a chunk of it (my lunch break, to be precise) doing something that geek culture is famous for – I argued about Star Trek on the internet.
No I didn’t, I embraced the fundamental creativity that comes with being a geek. I’m not being pretentious here – along with the near obsessive love for science fiction shows (and trivia about science fiction shows) comes an urge to play in the same sandbox as George Lucas or Joss Whedon or whoever. Fanfiction is a massive part of geek culture; some of it is terrible, some of it is obscene, some of it is better than the real thing, but it would be crazy to overlook its importance. Especially when you consider just one subsection of geekery – the men and women who were writing Doctor Who fanfic back in the day are now the people making the show. The amateur-turned-pro thing is a big deal for geek culture. Heck, you could even argue that a degree of the Open Source movement is driven by a similar urge – they’re just writing fanfic for code.
Anyway, back to what I did at lunch time – I chonicled the adventures of Indiana Potato-Head:
You could argue that only someone very geeky would do something like that. I would argue that you’re right. I would also argue that I got some cool pictures of Indiana Potato-Head and ultimately that’s what matters.
All that said, it’s only really when thinking about Geek Pride Day that I realised my surroundings are a total giveaway. Following are three pictures from my home and workstation – see if you can spot where they might differ from the average household of a thirty-something urban professional:
But at least I don’t have a Periodic Table shower curtain.
But here’s the thing; I’m geek and I love it. I like the creativity that comes with it. I like the thirst for knowledge, the community, the joy and the internet. I’ve made some great friends just through a shared love of eighties cartoons or comics or whatever, and I have absolutely no problem with being the guy who wikipedias an answer to even the most obscure musings people come up with. When it comes to 21st century archetypes, I’m geek and I’m proud.
Just don’t blame me for the Matrix sequels.
One of my favourite websites is Atlas Obscura, dedicated to all manner of weird, eccentric or little known places around the world. Anyway, Saturday was Obscura Day, a day organised by the site to bring recognition to various sites; I was going to blog about it, but as you’ll have seen from previous entries, I’ve been otherwise engaged in geeking out and getting stuck in lifts. However, it got me thinking about whether I had any unusual places in my vicinity, with there really only being one contender. The Crooked House in Lower Gornal, Dudley, is a pub affected by subsidence caused by the local mining industry in the early 1800s; the end result of this is that one side of the building is four feet higher than the other. More of its history can be found at it’s official website, but it’s long been known locally as the place where marbles roll uphill…
Like I said, check out the website for more pictures, but as a taster, here’s one I took in honour both of Obscura Day and my local heritage…