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Zowie! Up in the Sky! It’s a Dork, it’s a Nerd, it’s a Geek … it’s Superwonk!

Monday, 30 January 2012 00:00 Jennifer Devore
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Ciao, dolls! Still waiting to scram Antarctic way with Dr. Lucy and Onslow to see the yeti crabs and the ghost octopi. We’ve got some gum in the works; however, getting my Little Lindy into her astral plane carrier.

Little Lindy, ghostdog of the Hotel del Coronado

Sure, she’s a docile cottonball, but that little nutter needs to be confined to a conveyance when travelling. Making it all the more difficult, she’s a ghost like Moi, and is all the more flighty for it. Think Jack Skellington’s faithful Zero of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, but black. Dr. Harvey & Hildy (Mum and Dad) babysat her once; took her with them to Prince Edward Island, they did. The minute they hit the Charlottetown Harbour, Lindy was off like a new bride’s nightie. To allay the issue of a possible runaway, Dr. Lucy is currently devising a GPS for her: Ghost Pinpoint System. It’s a tricky bit and involves crystals. So, until we can lure Lindy into her carrier and Lucy can develop a viable crystal-enhanced tracking device, I’m just waiting in my turret room here at my beautiful Hotel Del and Lindy’s chasing sea gulls around the property.
Meanwhile, cats, I’m taking this extra time to research those early, frosty, ice-or-bust explorers, including watching any films I can on the snowbound set: 1934 Klondike Annie with Mae West and Robert Flaherty’s 1922 documentary Nanook of the North. Zowie! The Eskimo life is not for this vegetarian! Not to mention the lion’s share of the flicker was funded by a French furrier company. Yikes! I’ve also been reading loads of books on Adm. Richard E. Byrd and his 1930s, modern, mechanical migration southward: aerial cameras, airplanes, communications resources. Murder! This was no shot in the dark expedition! Thankfully, my travelling companions and I don’t need all that and furthermore, thankfully we’re all already dead; I’d hate to perish, stranded and starving on the ice. Of course, if I can look as wham-o, hubba-hubba as Vivien Leigh, all dolled up in faux furs and Max Factor,  in the 1935 Anna Karenina when they find my corps, aces!

As I’ve been researching our trip, I’ve also come across loads of totally unrelated, kooky info as I’ve been led astray via so many tentacles online, as one is wont to do. I’ve noted a phenomenon that wasn’t around at all in my day: geek culture. In the 1930s, nerds and geeks were of a certain intellectual class and not at all common. They were like Samoans; you might know someone who knows one and that was pretty cool. Nerds were easily identifiable by sector, industry and eye wear. The thick glasses and pocket protectors were a necessity, not a fashion statement akin to white earbuds, pork pie hats and skinny jeans on men. Ick, btw. (Gents, if you can wear skinny jeans … don’t. You look like junior high school girls and, anthropologically speaking, grown up tomatoes are not looking for gentlemen whom look like boys whom look like little girls. Just a note.)

Nerds and geeks were strictly born out of science, math, computer, space and there was also the occasional G-man.  They were the burdened heroes and pioneers of modern medicine, communications, burgeoning space programs and Cold War warriors in sensible shoes and $4 crew cuts. The most pedestrian of them were math majors and chemistry professors. Part of their appeal, guys or dolls, was that they were remarkable, unorthodox and weirdly marvelous. Geeks and nerds were like nobody else and you knew if you stood next to them at a cocktail party, you’d hear some bonkers stories, usually involving Bunsen burners, photons and nematodes. Ha! By the by, I know some will say there’s a vast difference amongst the labels geek, dork and nerd. Etymologically-speaking there is (see definitions below); culturally, not really.

Hint: front row/French Club holds a dork with published historical-literature and a geek whom develops serious intelligence technology. I've said too much.

Today, everyone is a geekoid. To be one is to voluntarily join a pithy club, complete with tech-themed clubs with names like Djørk, overpriced consumer-grade accessories available from your local Mapple “genius” (Seriously? Genius is now discounted?) and a monstrously lucrative industry growing around the need for all said-geeks to gather in a convention hall multiple times a year. Of course, if you’re a Goodluck Gander, the club also comes with a small but swell selection hot mamas with a hankering for quants and policy wonks. Here’s the kibosh, though. If everyone is a dork, nerd, geek or dweeb of some sort … is it really as unconventional and novel as one thinks? Further, if everyone is on the guest list, who’s left outside? The real ones, the true intellectuals and experts are like Superwonks; so deep into and dedicated to their fields, like Bill Gates and Dr. Michio Kaku, they could care less what they’re labeled and probably don’t care what color their earbuds are.

From what I can tell, geek is now partnered with just about any hobby, career or obsession known to mankind: orchestra geeks (known as orch dorks), pep club geeks, comic geeks, science geeks, math geeks, music geeks, fashion geeks, retro geeks, car geeks, goth geeks (just goth, please), ghost geeks, film geeks, TV geeks, gamer geeks, history geeks, book geeks, grammar geeks, sci-fi geeks, fantasy geeks, role-playing geeks, Faire geeks, cosplay geeks, Disney geeks, chess geeks and so many more. Who’s left? Jocks, professional fishermen, Wall Streeters, Prince William and 10thC. vikings may be the only folks left whom don’t categorize themselves as geeks.

Photo by Courtney Carmody

Now, Webster’s will describe a geek as:

1. a computer expert or enthusiast;
2. a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, especially one who is perceived to be overly intellectual;
3. a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts, as biting off the head of a live chicken. (The real definition in my day … not a proud claim!)
Nerd as:
1. a stupid, irritating, ineffectual, or unattractive person;

2. an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit: a computer nerd.

Dork as:
1. a silly, out-of-touch person who tends to look odd or behave ridiculously around others; a social misfit;
2. Vulgar/penis (Zowie!).

Good Noah also lists all interchangeably as synonyms: incl. such derisive terms as  jerk, schmo, grind and swot.

Guilty! Devore: what a dork

Happily, the flip-side to the fad is said-terms have become less hateful and derogatory. Even the hippest of the hip clubs are devoting entire nights to the smart and pasty: Hillcrest, San Diego's own Ruby Room offers just such shelter: Nerdcore Night. Initially a safe-haven for Thegamergirls.com chicks, sick of rude boys online, the second Tuesday of every month at The Ruby Room is now a soiree of the brightest, geekiest, most beautiful of downtown San Diego's nerd scene.

To wit, my dear pally Jennifer Susannah Devore, a self-professed history/film & TV/Disney geek, might be part of the problem. How much blame she shoulders, I shall not say. She has, however, taken the very geeky effort to compose a list of things White & Nerdy people like. Her original post on the matter is an homage to Christian Lander, the original Stuff White People Like creator, and can be in full ici: Stuff White & Nerdy People Like.

Check the list below, wheats. Are you White & Nerdy? Ask yourself before you toss around terms like geek, dork and nerd so willy-nilly … Am I really White & Nerdy? If so, own it. If not, you’re just embarrassing yourself.

White & Nerdy? I give you their King and Queen.

Stuff White & Nerdy People Like (In no particular order)

  • Comic Con (What kind of W&N would my pally Jen be if she hadn’t been published in the official Comic Con book?)
  • The Big Bang Theory (incl. memorizing the Barenaked Ladies’ theme song)
  • CNNGeekOut blog
  • Geology
  • Robots
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Steve Martin
  • Sci-fi and fantasy novels with anthropomorphic animals
  • Weezer
  • NASA
  • SyFy Channel
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock (no Googling the rules – either you know it or you don’t)
  • Periodic Table of the Elements (Fun idea: claim a corr. birthday element, if you find numerals offensive)
  • Crafting historical and theatrical alter egos (incl. learning Elizabethan English, Klingon, swordplay, spells, etc.)
  • Wired magazine
  • Swedish Fish
  • Michael Cera
  • Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Action figures
  • Weird Al Yankovic
  • Notating in journals (yes, ye olde quill to parchment) and memorizing things like Pi, Drake Equation, hierarchy of performance art, accurate recall of the British monarchy since 1066, etc.
  • Making and wearing costumes
  • Using “one” as opposed to “you” or “I”
  • Lunchboxes
  • George Noory
  • Grant Morrison, Supergods (You doth rock, Sir … dig the accent, too!)
  • UFOs
  • Ghost Hunters (not Ghost Adventurers … there is a difference)
  • Bigfoot
  • George Lucas
  • Skywalker Ranch
  • Mystery Science Theater 3K
  • Disneyland
  • The X-Files
  • Renaissance Faire
  • Semi-audible snorts of derision
  • Jokes involving German, Austrian or Swiss scientists
  • Bill Gates
  • Reminding people Bill Gates saved Steve Jobs and Apple from oblivion with 150 million cabbages
  • Jokes involving Windows Vista, DOS, neutrons or nematodes
  • The IT Crowd
  • Microsoft
  • Microsoft-blue button downs
  • Any and all digital media
  • Fry’s Electronics
  • Roku
  • Hello Kitty
  • T-shirts with math or code humour (skeletal humour works, too, as in “I find this humerus”)
  • Goths (Yet, we also like the originals: roaming Visigoths & Ostrogoths of the Roman Empire)
  • Voyager Golden Record
  • The Simpsons
  • Comics
  • Comic books (yes, they are different)
  • Animation
  • Saying Linux
  • American Dad!
  • Historical- and/or technical-inaccuracies of any kind (so we can first laugh, then correct them)
  • Bad grammar (ditto)
  • George Will
  • Dictionaries
  • Peppering conversation with foreign language-bon mots
  • Shot-for-shot remakes (exclnt ex: Opening sequence to Indiana Jones I, stop-motion w/Hasbro figures)
  • Memorizing, then sporadically reciting, TV and movie quotes (incl. full dialogues with multiple characters)
  • Role-playing
  • Acquiring movie props (incl. the front-end of a film reel, cut and tossed, from an X-Files episode)
  • Complaining about tech support
  • Making lists

Did my pally omit anything? Let her know @JennyPopNet because I’m off to Antarctica!

 

Abyssinia at the South Pole, cats!

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Jennifer Susannah Devore

Jenny Pop is the acclaimed Author of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books and The Darlings of Orange County. In addition, Jen is a prolific consumer of media and pop culture. Never leaving the house without her journal and fave Waterman pen, an old-fashioned, analog book (usually Hunter S. Thompson) and a fresh coat of lipstick, she is constantly on the hunt for fun, espresso, animation  and comics of any kind and always ready for an impromptu day at Disneyland.  JennyPop.net is a natural extension of  Jen's World; so, spend some time visiting. You'll have fun, she promises!

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Meet Miss Hannah

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Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

So, here's the low down, all you Joes and Janes ... I'm Hannah Hart, dead girl. Don't fret, it's actually a sweet dish being dead. Having perished in 1934 in a terrifically vicious accessories incident with actress Ida Lupino, I reside where I died: San Diego's gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. It ain't a bad gig at all, really! Great weather, swanky guests (not to mention a few fellow ghosties), amazing amenities, my own private turret overlooking the sea and all the java juice and giggle water I can handle; plus, these bartenders know how to make a Planter's Punch like nobody's business! See, I've been waiting for this Internet thing forever ... now, instead of slamming doors and moving lamps, I get to wag my tongue all I like at goodtobeageek.com

Abyssinia, kids!