John Hodgman


VOTE NERD

I WAS GLAD to provide a short quote for Joel Stein's recent piece on the "Urkel Effect," wherein he confesses his fear that, no matter what anyone tells the polls, a great number of Americans simply will not be able to bring themselves to vote for the nerd.

I FELT HE COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG, and said so in my typically longwinded (and atypically UNCAPPED) fashion.

My rant was far more than he could use, and I trust many will disagree with it passionately, for we are on the Internet, and that is our job. BUT HERE IT IS, all the same, for what else is there to say today?

Dear Joel:

I am not a nerd. I am a geek. The former is a subset of the latter, but don't be concerned if you don't know the difference. You will learn it all when the reeducation begins.

Far more than red vs. blue, or "real America" vs. Massachusetts, geeks vs. jocks is the culture war that defines our times.

Palin's winking attacks on intellect, science, and fruit flies represent pure jockdom: a suspicion of complexity and egg-headedness, a rejection of credentials and education in favor one's own personal gut instinct, and the conviction that, in the last quarter, hard realities may be denied, and a come-from-behind victory may be magically conjured through inspiring cliches.

There is lots to be admired about jockdom: often the best decisions come from the gut; and some of history's worst crimes have been founded on the impersonality of science and pseudoscience.

But I do not believe that people will reject Obama due to his geek signifiers: his gangly frame, goofball ears, and har-dee-har-har insistence that we must live in the world that EXISTS, not in the world we WISH existed (on the left or the right.)

Rather, I think after 8 years of jock-like bluster and "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" reality-denial, Obama's pragmatism and technician's calm seems extra attractive.

But even if Obama loses, and this may well happen, I believe jockdom, which was rightly the dominant mode of being American back when we used our hands and brawn to fight and farm and build things, is necessarily on the wane.

The world is now driven by knowledge economies. Certainly China and India and Dubai do not make "BIG BANG THEORY" sitcoms marginalizing THEIR geeks and engineers.

(Unless they actually do, in which case: awesome).

Whatever you may think of the above, PREPARE TO VOTE.

And also, if China really does make a version of BIG BANG THEORY, I need to see video ASAP.

That is all.

HALLOWE'EN


GREETINGS. This is John Hodgman writing at the witching hour (5:48PM EST).

It is Hallowe'en, and thus time to CRACK THE CRYSTAL SKULL at last.

Please see the enclosed video.

That is all.

ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT BREAKDANCING AND FREEMASONRY

I AM AWAITING word from Patrick Borelli to see if there is any high quality video of Grand Master Priest, breakdancer, Mason, available for posting here.

IN THE MEANTIME, here are some answers to your questions from the comments.

RE: MAJORD AND MADFIST'S DISCUSSION about the attainability of the 33rd Degree within Freemasonry, in this case you should consider the messenger before you blame the popper/locker. My conversation with Grand Master Priest regarding his Craft was brief, and I may have gotten some details wrong. I also think he may be somewhat older than he appears in the photograph, because breakdance and Masonry, in combination, make you immortal.

RE: ANONYMOUS, the answer is YES. The man I met is certainly the "Grand Master Priest" who is on staff at the Mystical Grand Masters School of Popping. But I must have gotten the name wrong somehow. The masked man in the video certainly has the moves. But according to his bio at the MGMSOP, that man was born in ancient Lemuria. So I cannot say for sure if that is also the man I met in Philadelphia.

[VIDEO; note, lyrics are explicit]

I WILL PROVIDE more information as it comes to me, as he really was a lovely and amazing person.

That is all.

TO THE 33rd DEGREE.

200810281751 NOT ONLY IS THIS MAN A BREAKDANCER, he is also a Freemason of the 33rd Degree (I don't know which Rite; it was late), and a master of both Crafts.

HIS NAME is Grand Master Priest Faustus, and I had the honor of seeing him perform at the 215 Festival on Friday at the Society of Free Letts, where he appeared as part of Patrick Borelli and Douglas Gorenstein's "Holy Headshot" project.

HE IS, frankly, the poppingest, lockingest Freemason I have ever met, and also a contemporary of many of the men who invented things like popping and locking. (He did not invent Freemasonry, however. HE IS NOT IMMORTAL. But he did have an amazing square and compass belt buckle, which started our discussion of The Craft)

IF ANYONE has any video of this event, I would be very glad to see it.

That is all.

SOME QUICK NOTES FROM THE UR-SKEKS-IVERSE

I AM IN DETROIT today, sitting in the lobby of WDET, stealing broadband from a student's room at Wayne State University. So I shall offer a few brief follow ups to your very welcome comments.

TWO COMMENTERS on my previous post on Gnomes pointed out that I might enjoy Brian Froud and Terry Jones's Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book. Indeed I might and have. But not as much as I enjoyed Brian Froud's The World of the Dark Crystal.

IT IS, OF COURSE, beautiful. But what I found inspiring, even as a child, is that someone would take The Dark Crystal so seriously, and draw and describe the Ur-Skeks-iverse in such sincere and deranged details. I think it is fair to say that everything I know about Skeksis culture derives from this book.

IN OTHER COMMENTS SECTIONS, Brermatt noted that the Battle of Galactia Ride also appeared in the FIRST "Get Smart" movie, "The Nude Bomb." It is so, and I know, because I saw this movie on TV in Australia some years ago, and I was so surprised that I practically went down the drain the wrong way.

NOW, however, it is on DVD, and insanely, i09 has the relevant clip in WIDESCREEN.

I MUST NOW drive to Ann Arbor.

That is all

WHEN WEIRD, SPACE MIME WAS STILL POPULAR AT AMUSEMENT PARKS

LAST NIGHT, I was talking to some people in our nation's capital about THE BATTLE OF GALACTICA.

(I was talking to them the way I normally talk to people, BEHIND A PODIUM, USING A MICROPHONE.)

As I trust you recall, this was a dark ride on the Universal Studios Tour in the early eighties that was ENTIRELY NON FICTIONAL, and which I visited when I was a human child. The ride was a BSG 1.0 tie-in in which your Universal Studios tram is captured by Cylons who apparently are attempting to invade the San Fernando Valley. They then hold your tram hostage in a makeshift space station, shooting their lasers around until you are rescued by two Colonial Warriors.

(WHY do these trams get into so much trouble? The answer is unknown.)

As I stressed to the people of Washington, it is important to know that the Colonial Warriors were not animatronic -- they were played by ACTUAL HUMAN ACTORS. (The Cylons, by contrast, were indeed animatronic, which I guess is another way of saying they were played by ACTUAL INHUMAN ROBOTS).

BUT: what I did not discover until years later, as I was piecing together my strange memories of this attraction via internet, was that these actors NEVER SPOKE. Instead, their lines were pre-recorded years before, presumably by other, better actors, and played over a loudspeaker -- a weird kind of torture which makes the ride now seem much more scary.

RECENTLY I discovered some amazing behind the scenes videos of the ride, presumably shot by these very actors, including one in which you actually follow along behind a Colonial Warrior as he runs through the ride doing his weird space mime, gesturing his head as though he were speaking. See "Following a Hero" -- the video portion begins after a series of stills.

I AM ESPECIALLY FOND of the video of the Battle of Galactica break room called "Back Stage at Battle of Galactica." See if you can spot the barbell, the completely incongruous map on the wall, and the man dressed as a Colonial Warrior writing a letter home. A letter which presumably contains only the word "WHY?" written over and over and over.

AS AN accidental TV personality and wholly fraudulent "actor," I often enjoy looking at this video whenever my head gets too big (usually at 10AM, and then again at 4PM).

MANY THANKS INDEED to Dale Long of byyourcommand.net, which is pretty much your one stop shop for BATTLE OF GALACTICA photos and videos.

That is all.

BLOG SUBMISSION 4

I WAS RECENTLY CORRECTED BY THE INTERNET regarding a very embarrassing misstatement regarding GNOMES.

YOU PERHAPS remember this remarkable book. In the early eighties it marked the height of the ILLUSTRATED FANTASY COFFEE TABLE BOOK CRAZE that we all remember, and even enjoyed its own animated special and series.

UNLIKE FROUD AND LEE'S "Faeries," "Gnomes" was not just an album of annotated illustrations, it was an ENTIRE FAKE ENCYCLOPEDIA of gnomic life and culture, explaining in great, unnecessary detail the way they built their homes, pitched their woo, and cured their ailments.

YOU MAY THUS APPRECIATE its attraction to me. Like the best books, it is unclear exactly who it was meant to reach. I may attest that children enjoy it, but it is very, ridiculously sophisticated and remarkably, bizarrely, europeanly frank about the gnome's physical and sexual lives. And while there is some discussion now on the internet about exactly how much Gnome nudity is in the book, I will settle the argument now: THERE IS ENOUGH.

HOWEVER, I was wrong. The authors, Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, are not in any way Norwegian, as I claimed in a recent interview, but DUTCH.

I REGRET THE ERROR.

A VERY DELICATE TIME

I AM HITTING THE ROAD. As such, posting will be briefer. Maybe not even complete sentences.

AND I AM PAINED.

For during this exact same time, KAKI KING (incredible guitarist and science fiction movie fan) and THE MOUNTAIN GOATS (led by John Darnielle, American songsmith and horror movie fan, with a band that includes Wurster, drummer and legend of radio comedy) will ALSO be touring, BUT NEVER IN THE SAME CITY AS ME.

BUT YOU MUST NOT SUFFER as I do. Please go and see them, and say hello.

IN THE MEANTIME, I have posted this before on my imitation blog, but in case you are one of MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD who did not read it, please watch this amazing document: KAKI KING RECITING VIRGINIA MADSEN'S OPENING MONOLOGUE FROM THE DAVID LYNCH VERSION OF DUNE.

THIS IS not just for the win: it is FOR THE TRIUMPH!

That is all.

THIS IS NOT SELF PROMOTION

200810211729

IT TRULY ISN'T. For I have no direct connection (and very little contact) with the army of brilliant obsessives who are illustrating the list of 700 Mole-Men that appears in my new book.

ANY MORE than I was connected to them when they illustrated the 700 HOBOES from my last book.

OR TO Boing Boing back when Mark Frauenfelder put them up to it.

IT IS ALL GENUINE, GRASS ROOTS madness. And I am delighted and awed and scared by it. It's sort of the same way I feel about grass and roots.

That is all.

GOOD EVENING.

Hodgman-Skull-Olenick

IT IS VERY GOOD AND FRIGHTENING to be here on BOING BOING. As readers of my own, small, imitation of a blog already know, I am a longtime reader, and now, very humbly...

A FIRST TIME CALLER.

I AM ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL to be here, for indeed it was a BOING BOING post which first convinced me to descend from the airy heights of minor television renown and return to my ink-stained former life of writing big books of fake trivia.

FOR IT WAS CORY, via Ape-Lad, who first brought to my attention the COMPLETELY IMPLAUSIBLE, BUT DISTRESSINGLY REAL product known as DICK VAN PATTEN'S HOBO CHILI FOR DOGS.

TRUTH MAY BE STRANGER THAN FICTION, I wrote in my first book, but never as strange as lies. But now it seemed, truth was catching up.

AND SO it was Van Patten's sublimely unexpected, non-fictional food for hobo dogs (hobo dogs!) that convinced me the time had come for me to return and restock the pond of fact with falsehood, and produce MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE.

(AND DUE TO THE INCREDIBLE GRACIOUSNESS of Mr. Van Patten and his business partners, I am able to reproduce in my book not only the label for HOBO CHILI FOR DOGS, but also the label for CHINESE TAKE-OUT FOR DOGS. It is obvious that they take great care in making their pet food, so please reward their good humor and esprit de creative commons by visiting their website.)

AS I BLOG here from day to day, I will not always be as baldfaced as I am today about mentioning my book. But I will be touring around the country reading from it, often accompanied by JONATHAN COULTON, so I cannot promise that it will never come up.

BUT BEFORE I PART, I did want to share with you one image of me, accompanied by my book, and a bottle of Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka.

FOR INDEED, here is another product that DOES IN FACT EXIST, though there is no rational explanation for it.

IT IS STRANGENESS INCARNATE, and like my book, it is filtered through diamonds.

THAT IS ALL.

PHOTO courtesy: Seth Olenick

(John Hodgman is guest blogger.)