American nerd(s)

October 26, 2008

Monday afternoon, I sat in Teaism finally finishing up the last stretch of Ben Nugent’s “American Nerd.” I don’t dislike it, which is about all I can say until I let some other thoughts sink in. Parts 2 and 3 definitely redeemed the sloppy thinking of Part 1 to the point where I want to mull over and respond to a book in a way I haven’t since bibliographies and citation manuals were part of my everyday life.

As I sat there reading a bit about awkward teen nerds at a creepy-adult-led anime conference, the awkward and loud teens behind me wrapped up their attempt to hate on affirmative action without sounding racist. They decided (loudly) they should come here more often. “Dude, we should start an anime club and meet here!” Girl says to Boy.

Awww. *

While I appreciate their unwitting involvement at acting out the chapter I was reading, I hope they postpone their regular meetings at my favorite restaurant at least until they’re old enough to flirt more subtly.

*Unfortunately, Boy doesn’t stand a chance with this girl based on what I heard. How cool is it that it was the girl dragging the boy into the dark den of anime? He knew precious little but was willing to follow her anywhere. In another era, she’d be in haute couture leading him into the opium den and he’d be dying with a smile on his face.

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Conflict resolution

September 22, 2008

During a bit of downtime at work this month, I followed a series of links (I can’t remember if it started over at Wil Wheaton’s blog or on Boing Boing. With those two, it’s a chicken-egg situation, anyway), and I ended up over at a 2006 New York Times review of Brian Wood’s “DMZ.” (Yes, Virginia, they do make comic books about photojournalists!) Volume 5 just came out last month, but I’ve managed to get along though life without ever knowing about the book, a state I’ve been trying to correct for the last two weeks.

So what does the dutiful geek do when she learns about a new comic? Well, she doesn’t rush out to support the local comic book store, which is what she should have done immediately. She feels badly for this, especially because she walks by said comic book store every single day and lives six blocks from it. Really, there is no excuse for the turn this story’s about to take.

Instead, she left her office (in the middle of a tropical storm! Can I have some of those geek points back now? For risking death in the name of comics?) to hit up the Borders across the street. The shelf was empty, but the computer promised another copy was on the way. I figured someone else saw a review of the latest and wanted to get caught up, too. A trip to the Barnes & Noble on E Street ended with my hands similarly empty.

You know how Big Box Stores came in and ruined the specialty shops? The local hardware store and main street and all that? And now no one at Big Box Store will help you pick out a hammer or something and everyone leaves without being united with the perfect shiny tool and dreaming of happier times.* It’s pretty much the same thing with Big Bookstores: a selection that runs wide–three stories! lattes!–but not very deep. They’ve got 45 copies of “Watchmen” on display (which, really, I think is great), but god help you if you’re trying to find something Time magazine didn’t pick as one of the top books of the century. Repeated return trips to Borders revealed that the book was not actually on order and that it will not be restocked. Like an infant who just has to touch the pretty red stove, I kept returning to Barnes and Noble too, hoping that on the next trip the shelves would be magically realphabetized and resemble something close to an organized system. Like much in life, I was continually disappointed.**

So, finally, tonight I walk the long way (it wasn’t through snow and ice, but it was uphill, especially after I’d started walking home the other way) to finally stop at Fantom Comics in Union Station. And goddamnit if they weren’t forced to close early for a stupid event in the Great Hall.

Someday I’ll read “DMZ,” and I bet I’ll love it.

*My mom told me recently that the former owners of Ye Olde Hardeware Shoppe in my hometown have taken to telling everyone that Wal-Mart drove them out of business. It was 15 years ago, and I guess they figure that no one around now remembers that they closed two years before Wal-Mart opened and that the reason they went out of business was because crotchety old men may be great for adding character but they suck at providing customer service.

**I also harbored a secret hope that the area would be free of That Guy, who often glares at me as though I have no right to look in the section and disturb the 15 feet of personal space he has carved out for himself next to the manga.