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Monthly Archives: April 2008

Geek-Out Moment: Who Shot Mr. Burns?

mrburns_shot Many Simpsons moments resonate with viewers, mostly having to do with Bart being strangled or Homer hurting himself, but one moment doesn’t involve either idiot.  The finale of season six featured a cliffhanger where the evil scrooge Mr. Burns was shot by an unknown assailant.  The episode spoofed the classic Dallas cliffhanger where another evil scrooge, J.R., was shot.  Viewers had to wait the entire summer to find out both killers (Dallas viewers found out ten years earlier due to the scheduling of both shows).

Mr. Burns’ murder became the topic of hot debate, with the entire town of Springfield as a suspect.  But in the end, little baby Maggie Simpson was the killer, to the hilarity (?) of all.  Most had expected MR. Burns’ assistant Waylon Smithers to have been the killer, and it would have made more sense, but the Simpsons never prided themselves on logic, but raw pop culture commentary that transcends time and space.  Well, at least time.  Gotta fit in all those repeats.

Geek-Out Moment: Wreaking havoc in Grand Theft Auto III

gtaiii Today Grand Theft Auto IV gives child sociopath the outlet they’ve been craving.  The controversial and violent Grand Theft Auto series revolutionized the gaming industry when it thugged its way into stores in 2001.  After two well-received bird-eye view adventures, GTA III went fully 3D in a massive city where gamers could do whatever they wanted, from moving up in the criminal ranks to just going ape-shit and killing everyone one in sight.  The game’s variety of options basically gave players a sandbox to play in, thus creatively coined the genre of sandbox games that have come to dominate everything on the market.  GTA III’s critical acclaimed hailed not only the innovative sandbox gameplay, but recognized the game also provided a deep story with vivid characters and rich pop culture commentary.  GTA games have also been well-known for their large music libraries, often exposing new artists for the masses, among other things.

Why don’t all my favorite writers blog?

The internet has made writing and publishing easy.  So why aren’t the leading writers writing?

Several writers have influenced my views and shaped my own writing through their unique opinions and books.  Old-school journalism provided big name writers with high-profile columns.  This old-school thinking is challenged by the constant stream of dialogue provided by the internet.    Waiting for short columns or years for books makes no sense in the Internet Age.

Two deterrents to blogging come to mind.  First it’s time consuming, and that’s very true.  But looking at the number of established writers who do blog regularly, like Paul Krugman, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, and Clive Thompson (hasn’t been updated for a while) blogging can fit into already busy schedules.

Second is if you blog for free, people won’t buy your books.  That is not so true.

Blogs offer writers so much value in keeping their readership informed and loyal.  Blogs can be used to help research and focus group future book ideas, like Chris Anderson did and still does with the Long Tail.  His blog keeps the book relevant years after being published. 

Dr. Henry Jenkins, co-director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program wrote on his blog why academics should blog noting how much interest his blog generates in his work and his program at MIT.  His blog helps him inform prospective students, alumni, news media, and the public in a convenient and reliable way that builds up the status of his program and himself.  Jenkins credits the blog as being central to his recent book’s success.  He published outtakes, revisit case histories, and attract international interest.

The BuzzMachine quoted several news media editors who expect new journalist applicants to have blogs saying there’s no excuse not to have one.

Established journalists should be expected just as much as new writers to have blogs.  Having the constant outlet not only holds readers attention, but it constantly reminds readers who’s voices are worth listening to.  I try to post on Prodigeek every day to keep the site fresh and relevant.  Even the most famous of writers have to recognize the growing media landscape, and if you don’t evolve with it, you’ll be supplanted by something new or worse, become forgotten in the clutter and noise.  The New York Times shielded most of its top columnists behind its paywall, allowing dozens of political commentary blogs and websites to provide online readers with the information they craved.  When the New York Times wonders why people keep reading the Huffington Post instead of its own columnists, it’s because the Huffington Post had three years without competition to define and shape online political discourse.

With writing and publishing so easy, the noise can get very loud, even the most commanding voices could get drowned out.  By regularly updating a blog, writers can avoid that, and making me happy.  And that’s what really counts.

Geek-Out Moment: Pouring quarters into Street Fight II

There are many things to credit Street Fight II with.  It made fighting games popular, extended the life of the arcades, and made six button combo craziness all the rage.  But Street Fight II is really all about the catch phrases and super move motions.  Street Fighter II revolutionized the entire video game industry and constantly praised as one of the greatest games ever, a game many spent entire allowances on arcades not realizing the game would eventually be released for every console ever, but all a gamer needs to say is hadoken and cup their hands to show they are shooting out the projectile.  Only wusses do sonic booms.


7 reasons GTA does more good than bad

Grand Theft Auto has become the poster child for everything wrong with video games. From glamorizing criminal activities to shooting cops to abusing women and engaging in every kind of illegal activity, GTA does seem pretty bad. But as the book Everything Bad Is Good for You points out, there are many benefits missed when you judge a game by its box. I’m not making a judgment about whether 4-year-olds should play GTA (maybe a really really mature one), but I think parents and even adult gamers should look at what GTA really offers.

7. Fantasy is good

Imagination is healthy and rewarding. Video games help bring that fantasy to life. Sure it’s a morbid twist on good ol’ cops and robbers, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. GTA is a chance to pretend to be something most of us could never be. The key is to…

6. Learn right from wrong

And hopefully parents, or adults, can us GTA as an example in right and wrong. Specifically, anything you do in GTA is wrong. Easy to understand, right. So go crazy, enjoy yourself, but remember, don’t try this at home…without a game controller.


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Geek-Out Moment: You’ve got mail

The world may forget AOL the company, but we will always remember AOL the voice.  That gruff, manly voice always welcomed you to the still young and unexplored World Wide Web.  And to shrieks of joy (what, just me), that same boom of masculinity would reveal "You’ve Got Mail."  Those thrilling words showed you someone cared enough to forward you some joke or chain letter they found amusing and you too would sent it to dozens of unknown mashups of random letters and numbers (you weren’t allowed to use real names back then).  These three words were so memorable, Tom Hanks decided to make a movie about them.  It has Meg Ryan and she smiles when she finds out "You’ve got mail."  And if it makes Meg Ryan smile, you know it’s golden.

Geek-Out Moment: The video game Odyssey

from Martin Goldberg and Electronic Entertainment Museum Before, Nintendo and Sega and even before Atari, the first video game console emerged.  The Magnavox Odyssey launched in 1972 to disappointing sales thanks to a poor marketing campaign leading many to think the console would only work on Magnavox televisions.  The Odyssey featured the Pong like game, Table Tennis, its best selling game.  Also featured were add-on peripherals like the first light gun and offered accessories to mimic color graphics and tools to help gamers keep score.  Now we get plastic shell wheels with our games.  That’s progress.

Geek-Out Moment: Five million versus four

daleksvscybermen For about 20 years, a variety of geekily attractive Doctors have time traveled their way into our hearts.  The rejuvenated series Doctor Who has melded modern special effects with some amazing story telling comparable to any of the early day classics.  The climatic season two finale turned into a fanboy orgy when the Doctor’s two greatest foes had to fight over Earth.  The Cybermen had already conquered Earth when four Daleks emerged from a mysterious orb.  The Cybermen said refused to recognize the threat, stating "We are 5 million, how many are you?"  The Daleks calmly replied "Four" and proceeded to destroy all the Cybermen in their way.  Of course the Doctor managed to save the day, not without some sacrifice, a bittersweet end to an epic adventure.

Geek-Out Moment: Danger Will Robinson

lost_in_space Campy sci-fi found another classic in the 1965 series Lost in Space.  A space-faring version of the Swiss Family Robinson tried to escape the overpopulated Earth, but were thrown off course by the saboteur Dr. Zachary Smith.  Lost in space (shocking how they came up with that name), the Robinson family (mom, dad, their three kids, the pilot, a robot, and the saboteur) explored new planets and encountered weekly struggles for survival, often caused by the regularly evil Dr. Smith (who no one punched in the face, sadly).  The classic line, “Danger, Will Robinson!” was said by the family’s robot who was in charge of protecting the youngest Will Robinson, ironically the perceived catch phrase was only said once during the show.  But it has since become the shows greatest legacy.  It’s worst is it gave Matt LeBlanc a chance to be a womanizer in the movie version. Bad movie spin-off, bad.

Geek Chic: Best reasons to date a geek

This is a blog post meant to be printed out and given to potential dates.  I even recommend pasting your picture on the paper for added effect.  Geeks are often ignored as quality mates in place of jocks and preppies and other people who haven’t grown out of their high school cliques.  Here are some ways geeks makes the best dates.

They’ll appreciate you

Hard to believe, but most geeks don’t go on many dates.  And ever since World of Warcraft, we rarely leave our houses.  Geeks aren’t so much socially inept as they are shy, so once they get comfortable with you, they will shower you with attention.  And since they’re shy, it’ll be hard for them to find someone to cheat, so you got loyalty mixed in.

Great conversation

Geeks are smart.  Sure they mostly want to talk about computers, video games, and comics but many have vast interests (take me for example, with my fashion, politics, and geeky interests).  Some are experts in music, sports, or plant life meaning your dates will never be lacking for things to talk about.

Creativity and imagination

Even boring looking computer code requires creativity.  Just think about how that creativity can be applied other ways.

Bloomed late

My mother always told me geeks suffer in high school and prosper in college.  That was very true for me.  Geekiness was more acceptable in college (if you pick the right sport-less school) and allowed me to network better, finding friends with similar interests.  I even dated a lot, shocking, I know.  As a result, I respected the social life I earned since I had always had to fight so hard to be appreciated.

They’re handy, as long as it has a power outlet

Don’t ask them to fix the faucet or build the shed, but if you’re computer’s on the fritz or you need your wireless router set up, it’s good to have friends in techie places. It’s shallow, but come on, you’d date someone with tickets to _______ just for a good show/game.

They’ll make some money

Smart, tech savvy, hard workers.  Hello house in the Hamptons.