Joe Peacock: Hey, geek posers, welcome to the party
Joe Peacock says "geek" is what happens when passion overrides your need to be accepted or fit in.
May 30th, 2012
11:08 AM ET

Joe Peacock: Hey, geek posers, welcome to the party

Editor's note: When he's not teaching the Internet how to fist-fight, why being weird is awesome or how to self-publish your own books, Joe Peacock tours the world, showing his extensive "Akira" art collection. He has 13 cats and loves you.

We know who you are. You shine like a beacon. Geeks aren’t blind: We see you, geek poser.

We know it’s suddenly cool to be smart and passionate. Those qualities earned us derision and exclusion from our peers at one point, and the term "geek" was thrown at us like it was meant to stab us in the heart. But now, it's become something of an honorific.

These days, people actually want to be us - kind of.

I’ve seen geek posers whip out their iPhones while wearing the Secret Wars or Domokun t-shirts they bought at Target for $9.99, telling their friends what a great time they're going to have at DragonCon or San Diego ComicCon, as if those are the happening parties of the day. They say things like, "Deep down, I'm a geek" or "I just  have to embrace my inner geek" or "I bet you didn't know I'm such a geek!"

It reminds me of the late '80s, when teenagers would wear Vision Street Wear or Vans shoes with a Bones Brigade T-shirt because they saw Christian Slater do it in that totally rad movie “Gleaming the Cube” (which, if you weren't alive then, you may know as "A Brother's Justice" - one of the few examples in film history in which a simple title change made a movie go from utterly awesome to completely crappy).

Or the early '90s, when everyone was wearing Z. Cavaricci pants and Cross-Colors jackets because MC Hammer was all over MTV singing "U Can't Touch This." Or when every white kid over the age of 13 was wearing flannel with corduroy and Doc Martens because Pearl Jam was the hot band of the day.

For some reason, "geek" has become the label that the mainstream has placed on a culture that mixes comic book fandom, sci-fi and fantasy movies, and tech consumerism. And those things all together have become very popular. So the trend is to call yourself "geeky" if you like them.

But that's the problem. Those things aren't the sum total of geekdom. Geek isn't a scene. It's not a fashion. It's not a lifestyle. It's a life – my life. Geek is who you are. When geek posers are off doing the next trendy thing and "geek" is, like, so 2012, we will still be us. FULL POST

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How a Swedish teenager brought Japan to its knees
YOHIO debuted "Reach the Sky" last month.
May 29th, 2012
11:27 AM ET

How a Swedish teenager brought Japan to its knees

A few weeks ago, a memorable video made the rounds of the usual Internet hangouts. It featured a pale, beautiful, blond-haired singer named YOHIO with huge dark eyes, wearing pigtails and a Lolita-style ensemble and playing a white guitar.

The song, called "Sky*Limit," is a full-on Japanese rock ballad, evocative of a musical subgenre called visual kei that celebrates dramatic fashion and a androgynous look not unlike that of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust.

However, YOHIO is not Japanese. In fact, he's not even female.

Raised in a musical family, the Swedish teenager was already in a visual kei band called Seremedy at the age of 14. After making the rounds at several conventions, the band signed with Nintone Records/Universal Music Japan in 2011. And this year, YOHIO released his solo debut album, "Reach the Sky."

To promote the album, YOHIO appeared at Shinjuku Station Square in Tokyo and drew a crowd of 6,000 [Japanese website]. He's also appeared on several Japanese television shows.

YOHIO proudly describes himself as a "bishouen" – a Japanese word that literally translates to "beautiful youth." The trend of men toeing the line between masculine and feminine looks has long existed in the culture, as evidenced by the popularity of male idols with distinctly feminine stylings. FULL POST

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Believers vs. skeptics: A great geek divide?
Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker (bottom center) with his alien creations for "Men in Black 3." For one subset of nerd, aliens and "MIBs" aren't just characters in movies.
May 28th, 2012
04:11 PM ET

Believers vs. skeptics: A great geek divide?

I was surprised, leading up to this weekend's top grossing movie, "Men in Black 3," that paranormal phenomena such as UFOs, the Roswell Incident and, yes, the mysterious Men in Black themselves  were conspicuously missing from the zeitgeist.

When the popular sci-fi franchise launched 15 years ago, it was all anyone could talk about. The first "MIB," along with "Independence Day," "The X Files" and "Roswell," brought aliens and government cover-ups their biggest pop culture moment in a generation.

While my geeky friends were rabid science fiction fans, excited about the proliferation of these movies and television shows, they scoffed at the idea that any of the aliens or UFOs we saw on screen had any basis in reality.

When we got hold of a video of purported UFO sightings around the time the first "Men in Black" movie came out, my friends proceeded to take apart the grainy footage methodically, claiming "hoax!" or easily identifying the flying object.

So, I wondered, how is it that some nerds can be so interested in science fiction involving alien life forms but can't believe that anything remotely paranormal is actually happening? FULL POST

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Happy Geek Pride/Towel/etc. Day!
Our pal Larry wonders, "Where's a spaceship when you need one?"
May 25th, 2012
02:01 PM ET

Happy Geek Pride/Towel/etc. Day!

Editor's note: A few years ago, the nerds at CNN.com had to explain to our coworkers what Towel Day was. We helped clear things up on CNN's long-defunct SciTech blog. In commemoration of today, we're bringing back our very informative post. We like to think of it as a "collector's edition."

Romulans, puppeteers, hobbits - lend me your ears! Today, we geeks can gather today and celebrate all that makes us unique.

Worldwide, May 25 is known as Geek Pride Day, Towel Day (for "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fans like our own No. 42 above) and Glorious 25th of May, for Discworld fans.

Although Geek Pride Day is a relatively new holiday; founded in Spain in 2006, the Inalienable Rights of Geekdom (at least as we see them) that it celebrates are not:

1. The right to strive to be even geekier.
2. The right to not leave your house when there's plenty to entertain you there.
3. The right to not like football or any other sport.
4. The right to freely associate with other nerds.
5. The right to have a few select (inevitably awesome) friends.
6. The right to have a ton of friends - each geekier than the last.
7. The right to not be “in-style.”
8. The right to be overweight/underweight/have poor eyesight and the like.
9. The right to show off your geekiness at all times.
10. The right to take over the world.

Not all geeks will agree with or adhere to all - or in some cases even most - of these rules. Everybody geeks out in their own way; that's the beauty of it.

But we can all agree that being a geek can be a good thing. Why is that?
Well, let’s take a look at a couple of the great things about being a geek:

1. We can always find a game to play no matter what. We are like the MacGyver of games. Give us a pen and paper and we’ll entertain ourselves and others.
2. We look good in glasses. Seriously, we do.
3. We are clever. Who was the one who everyone turned to on "Lost?" The doctor.
4. Speaking of doctors, we have Doctor Who. He’s smart, funny, has a time machine and is one of the biggest geeks in the universe.
5. We can balance a checkbook. Whether we use a computer program, our raw brain power or a good old-fashioned abacus, we will not be overdrawn.

Geek Pride Day is all about looking at the best parts of being a geek, so grab your towel, stick out your thumb and tell us what your plans are - or what you've already done - for Geek Pride Day.

The legacy of 'men' in black
Agents J and K from the "Men in Black" movies make sure to neuralyze the situation.
May 24th, 2012
05:55 PM ET

The legacy of 'men' in black

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

They are super-secret agents who sacrifice their identities and dedicate themselves to safeguarding humanity from extraterrestrial activity, all while operating undetected in the background of a society they are sworn to protect.

Starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, “Men In Black 3” is the new installment of the science-fiction film franchise in which “MIB” agents routinely save the planet from alien threats. In the latest entry, which is heavy on time travel, agents J (Smith) and K (Jones, and Brolin as the younger incarnation of the character) rely on shiny weapons to get the job done. And to keep the average citizen from freaking out about aliens, they occasionally have to erase memories using their handy gadget, the neuralyzer.

But don’t confuse the heroes of the “Men In Black” movies with the nefarious men in black suits that occupy a far larger space in the consciousness of people who believe in aliens and UFOs.

The source material for the "Men in Black" movies was Lowell Cunningham’s early '90s comic book. The comic portrays MIB as agents who track paranormal happenings and murder witnesses to contain a situation - obviously the funny good guys of the movies are a departure from the original.

The comic's treatment hews closer to other MIB theories found in popular culture (and we’re not talking about Johnny Cash or Jacob’s brother from “Lost”). FULL POST

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