Role-playing fans didn’t always have it so easy. While now we have high-tech computers able to produce complex graphics and track tons of statistics, geeks used have to use ancient technology like pencil and paper to get their fantasy fix. Dungeons and Dragons launched in 1974 almost single-handedly starting the role-playing industry. Players bought books filled with statistics, monsters, spells, and story ideas to create their own characters and worlds. Using dice and a lot of imagination, geeks were able to play complex games before computer processors could handle the challenges. Of course, now video games can do all the fantastic stuff in Dungeons and Dragons, but the imagination side is so addictive, the game has an avid following still, with an updated version due out this year.
Celebrating, immortalizing, and humiliating the classic sci-fi series Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Looney Tunes classic Daffy Duck decided he too wanted to travel into space. In the 1953 classic Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century, Daffy Duck spits his way to idiotic heroics, with an ego even Captain Kirk would be over powered by. One of the funniest Looney Tunes shorts ever, Duck Dogers has appeared in several sequels and his own series helping continue the lampooning sci-fi so deserves.
Sure the iPod is great for listening to music and watching movies on a really tiny screen, but why limit yourself. The iPod is a powerful tiny computer and you might try using it as such. Most of these tricks take some advanced computer skills, so if your iPod explodes, blame Microsoft like everybody else.
What free games and programs for your iPod? The open-source miracle worker Linux has been developed specifically for the iPod and its handy click-wheel. iPodLinux allows you to play more media files and you can still load the regular Apple firmware. Unfortunately the newest iPods and some older ones are not supported.
Wikipedia on your iPod
If you get into a lot of discussions about the House of Burgundy but can’t remember the order of the monarchs, try carrying Wikipedia with you. With no need for the internet, you can install almost 2 gigs of Wikipedia goodness onto your iPod for anytime viewing. Now you always have something interesting to read on the train.
Change the iPod theme
For very advanced users (Windows only), use the iPodWizard to change the visuals of your iPod OS. Tweak the colors, fonts, and maybe make your music sound better as a result.
Read a book
With a slight of hand, you can upload ebooks to your iPod. Simply paste any text into a simple text file (.txt) and load it into Notes or Contacts on your iPod. Files must be less than 4kb so novels need to be broken up between several files Programs Text2iPod X and iPoDoc can help simplify the process.
You can even buy software
I know, who buys software these days. Depending on if you want to learn a language, create flash cards, or listen to some female robot read your notes, you can find software for your iPod. We are not here to judge.
I had avoided watching political debates this cycle mostly because I hate the canned rhetoric and lack of real debate. The rules are so strictly prepared by the candidates, the debates are in my cynical opinion, a badly scripted reality show. But I caved Tuesday and watched the debate on MSNBC.
While the debated seemed one notch above reality TV (a game show maybe), I found both Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama engaging. It was the moderating journalists that looked like idiots.
NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams and Meet the Press host Tim Russert went back and forth in a subtle battle for who could ask the least relevant question.
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced the Fantastic Four to a new generation of super hero fans, they thought the team would be their swan song. Why else would Stan Lee make such weird characters. Mr. Fantastic spoke with such big words. The Thing was a right from classic literature. And Invisible Girl certainly didn’t know her proper place as a woman. But the Fantastic Four turned out to be a revolutionary success – a fantastic display of what real people might be like if they became superheroes. They had no secret identities, fought with each other, and couldn’t hold on to money for more than an issue. Their pain made for amazing comic books unlike anything before ushering in the Marvel Age of awesome comics.
It like a frog based immune system. Flu Fighters puts you in charge of defending all the vital organs against a variety of attacking viruses. These viruses will attach to the organs, slowly killing the host. Your goal is to eat as many as you can and keep your host alive as long as possible. While there is unfortunately no leaderboard or high score, the game is quite the challenge, with you pulling your frog-based immune system by his tongue, eager to eat and grow fat from all the delicious viruses. So bon appetite.
Geek-Out Game: Flu Fighters
On a tiny bridge with a wooden staff and a terrible case of split-ends, Gandalf the Grey stood his grown against the giant fire demon Balrog. Gandalf had to protect Frodo, the One Ring, and all his companions so we could make it to the sequels. Until now, Gandalf was just an old guy with a bad ass sword and some surprisingly kick ass moves, but for a powerful wizard, he wasn’t much. Until now. With an energy shield protecting himself from Balrog’s whip, Gandalf prevented the demon from pursuing the Fellowship, echoing the magic words "You shall not pass." The constant repeat and emotional climax led the demon’s fall, and ironically Gandalf’s as well, for now. So sad. The book original had Gandalf saying "You cannot pass."
Put away those broom handles and baseball bats. With Kenner’s real lightsabers, you can recreate your favorite lightsaber battles like never before, starting with the classic Luke Skywalker lightsaber. It even lights up, truly state of the art technology for 1978. If only the Star Wars kid has a toy of this quality. It might have improved his performance.
Geeks don’t get much respect at the Academy Awards. No science fiction film has ever won Best Picture and just a handful have been nominated. Fantasy got some more wins, but that’s only cause of music – Wizard of Oz wouldn’t worked as well if it was Somewhere over the spatial anomaly. This list recognizes the best geek movies also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture ranked not only by how many awards they had, but also for how much geeks also like them (sorry Armageddon).
7. Jaws – 4 nominations, 3 wins
Duh dun. Duh dun. Aside from being scary as swimming with man-eating sharks, Jaws began the blockbuster mentality in Hollywood (not necessarily a good thing) and made the career of a small time director known as Steven Spielberg. This sea classic has chewed its way into geek hearts the way any move can – with a giant mechanical monster bent on destruction.
6. A Clockwork Orange – 4 nominations
Hailed as one of the greatest movies ever and the Academy Awards failed to give it one Oscar. It’s a common trend (where’s Blade Runner). Stanley Kubrick’s twisted sci-fi adventure lost out to French Connection’s famous car chases, but remains iconic for its hats, music, and malicious intent. Not the happiest of movies, but that just makes us love it more.
The highlight of any museum trip, IMAX movies prove bigger is better. These screens are more than five stories high, dwarfing the size of traditional movie screens and providing greater picture quality and sound. Introduced in 1971, IMAX movies required special filming for the larger screens resulting in a more expensive production process. IMAX films were limited to museums and educational purposes better suited for shorter films with breathtaking visuals. As of 2002, traditional movie releases could be upcoverted to IMAX screens allowing for more commercial releases. But IMAX still devotes more than half its screens to educational films, which is how most geeks remember these giant screens.