The Doubleclicks’ New Video Reminds Us We Have Nothing to Prove


Yes, this!

Watch the video and read the boards. Watch it again to listen to the amazing Doubleclicks. If you listen to it a third time, well… I can’t guarantee that you won’t be humming it for the rest of the day. (My seven-year-old daughter already is.) But you may want to risk the tune getting stuck to spot celebrities like Adam Savage, Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and many more who joined so many other geeks to make this video.

We have nothing to prove. Just because we are girls, moms, women, does not mean we shouldn’t be interested in the things we obsess over.

Thank you, Doubleclicks. You truly are advocates for geeks everywhere.

OED Recognizes “Geekery” (and 93 Other Words) in June Quarterly Update

Oxford English Dictionary Online Edition has a new entry for "geekery." (Screen grab K. Moore)

Lexical geeks everywhere perked up their auricles when a hoary old venerated tome like the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) announced that its June quarterly update included a word in our domain: geekery.

This is in addition to the existing list of  eleven other words listed in the current online edition with “geek” roots. Sadly for me, my printed copy does not inherit any of the updates in the 30 or so years since it was published.

The OED Online entry for geekery (for British English primarily; American English is described in the Oxford American English Dictionary) is listed as slang whose first definition refers to

…bizarre or grotesque acts performed by a carnival or circus geek (geek n. 2), regarded collectively.

The  second definition is

2. Actions or behaviour typical of a geek or geeks (geek n. 1b, geek n. 1c); spec. obsessive devotion to or knowledge of a particular (specified) subject or pursuit, esp. one regarded as unfashionable or highly technical. Also: the state of being a geek; geekiness.

There are historically derived quotations illustrating usage of the terms at different points in history, which helps to clarify differences between definitions and how each definition evolves over time. This is vastly true of definitions 1 and 2 for “geekery”– the carnival freak vs. the extreme enthusiast.

The  94 words in the June quarterly update focus on words with hand, head, or heart as their bases, plus other high-impact words like fracking, kombucha, red velvet, and tweet.

In addition to “our” word, this quarterly update includes the 93 other new words (main entries), plus new sub-entries and new senses for words already present in the OED. You can find out more about the June update at and a more in-depth discussion of the update’s themes and quirks in an essay by OED Chief Editor John Simpson at . Dip into the OED and join me in my word geekery (definition 2, not 1!).


A Quick and Dirty Visit to the Phoenix Comicon

Steampunk dude. Photo: Jenny Williams
Steampunk dude. Photo: Jenny Williams

My family and I went to the Phoenix Comicon last Friday. It was an interesting visit because we went without a plan, and it was Rory‘s first time at this kind of con. The kids and I had been to this one twice before. But we purposely went for only a short visit this time, and didn’t even crack open the program.

Bad form, I know. But we only really had an afternoon, and I find I get my hopes up to see too many things if I over plan. So I let Rory run the show. Taking kids to panels is sometimes unpredictable, and usually boring for the kids, so our entire experience was the dealer room and people watching. Because it was Friday, the crowds were quite manageable, and we were able to get to all the tables we wanted to see.

Continue reading A Quick and Dirty Visit to the Phoenix Comicon

Test Your Knowledge With Geek Crosswords And Geek Word Search

Geek Crosswords, Geek Word Search
Geek Crosswords, Geek Word Search, Images: Adams Media

If you love crosswords and word searches, then you’re going to want the newly released Geek Crosswords and Geek Word Search books by Adams Media. Instead of the usual, everyman puzzles you find in most books, these are tailor-made for us geeks.

Each book has over 50 puzzles that are divided into three sections. You start off on level one, which are the easiest puzzles, and work your way up to level three. The crosswords especially will have you wracking your brain trying to remember what the Ghostbusters did before they were fired and which of Tarantino’s movies starred Pam Grier.

The puzzles are themed, so you have an idea of what kinds of geek tidbits you’ll need to sort toward the front of your brain before you start. Your knowledge of Indiana Jones, meteors, William Shatner and Speed Racer will all be tested.

In case your memory isn’t quite what you thought, there are answer keys in the backs of the books, but try not to cheat and look things up. It’ll seriously damage your nerd cred and even if no one else knows, you’ll know you were bested by a puzzle.

Geek Crosswords and Geek Word Search are now available for $8.95 each. They’re the perfect way to pass the time while trapped inside on these cold winter days.

I received these books for review purposes.

On Proving Geek Cred

Real Geek Girls or Not? Image: Nicole Wakelin

I don’t need to prove my geek cred to anyone. Neither do you. In fact, the idea that we need to prove anything about how we self-identify is ridiculous. If I see myself as a geek because I like (insert topic here) then that should be good enough. It’s not like calling yourself a doctor because you think stethoscopes are neat and then attempting open heart surgery. No life hangs in the balance. It’s just an identifier, a description, something as easy to break out as saying you’re tall, or introverted or forgetful. So why does it garner such passionate debate when some who’ve embraced the label claim it is being used unfairly by others?

It happens every few months, usually because someone has written an article about geeks, or labeled themselves as a geek. There is intense Internet debate, usually a good bit of it leaning toward the nasty, as “real” geeks try to explain why the term was unfairly used, why it was undeserved, why it should be given back to those who own it. As if anyone can own a word. You can buy a vowel on Wheel of Fortune, but that’s a game show. You can’t own a word in the real world.

I have been calling myself a geek and a nerd for years. Yeah, comparing those two terms alone is probably a doctoral thesis in the making, but that’s not the point. I think I’m a geek. I think I’m a nerd. Not everyone I meet might agree with me. I don’t wear lots of geeky shirts. I don’t like argyle socks. I love games but am a terrible gamer. I don’t like Lord of the Rings. I am still a geek.

I think that some of the problem comes from what has defined the word geek for so many years. Not the guy biting the head off of a chicken in a circus freak show, but the way those of a certain age had the label applied to them in a none too complimentary way when they were younger. It still happens now. There are times when being called a geek or labeling yourself as one is just fine, and maybe even, dare I say it, cool. But there are still times when it’s used to call someone out as different and not fitting in with the crowd.

But the cool factor, the acceptability, the marketability of the word is still new. The guys who tinkered around with computers in the 80’s, who were aces at Tempest in the arcades and had scientific calculators in their back pockets lived through a time when geek was an insult and never, ever a compliment. This goes for women, too. It was not cool to hang out at the comic store, recite lines from Star Wars or read Tolkien. You were a geek, and by definition you were an outcast.

Clearly, the word has changed over the years. It’s come to mean many things to many people. It is still at times used as an insult, but just as often it’s used as a point of pride. Calling yourself a geek shows that you are proud of who you are and your passions. It shows you are part of a group that generally, is accepting of others because most geeks have at some time felt like an outcast. But, hasn’t everyone felt like an outcast at some time? Hasn’t everyone, from the football fanatic to the comic book collector wished that people understood them better? Yes, I’m going to have to say yes.

So, when someone you don’t think deserves the label geek uses it, just leave it alone. Articles like this one in Forbes calling out fake geek girls are just ridiculous. Sure, geek is having it’s heyday right now and people will use the word however they choose. Sometimes because they genuinely identify with it, and sometimes because they think it may garner them positive attention. Truly, it doesn’t matter. The meaning of the word will continue to change as how we identify ourselves changes.

Geek is just a word. It’s what you are that actually matters.

For Valentine's Day: Five great, geeky couples

Mileva Marić and Albert Einstein, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić
When Albert Einstein’s private letters were released in 1987, a lot more came to light about his wife, Mileva Marić, who also studied at Zurich Polytechnic (as only the fifth woman in its section for a diploma to teach math and physics). Some speculate that she even helped write some of his most well-known work–including the theory of relativity. At a minimum, she was clearly an important part of his scientific life and a resource he could discuss ideas with. In 1905, she is said to have told a friend regarding the Annus Mirabilis Papers, “we finished some important work that will make my husband world famous.”

Louis and Mary Leakey
Louis and Mary met when he was seeking an illustrator for his book. After becoming a couple (while he was still with his first wife!), they worked together as archaeologists, largely in Africa’s Olduvai Gorge. Together they found stone age instruments as much as two million years old and many important bones, including a one-million-year-old Homo erectus skull in 1965. After her husband’s death, Mary continued the work and went on to discover nearly four-million-year-old fossils, as well as fifteen new species and one new genus.

Isaac and Janet Asimov
Isaac Asimov is a geek icon, thanks to sci-fi works like the Foundation novels and I, Robot. He even coined the word “robotics.” His second marriage was to Janet Jeppson, who was a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and scifi writer herself. She created (with a small assist from her hubby) a series of YA books about Norby the Mixed-Up Robot.

Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker
Does that name sound oddly familiar? Remember back in 1994 when a comet went slamming into Jupiter? That was Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which the couple co-discovered with David Levy. In fact, she holds the record for having discovered the most comets, as well as more than 800 asteroids. She and Eugene received the James Craig Watson Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

Susan Sontag and Annie Liebovitz
These lovely ladies are cultural geeks each in their own right who have also collaborated, such as on the photo book Women. Independently, Sontag was a political activist noted for both her nonfiction essays as well as her plays and novels. Liebovitz is famous for her stunning portrait photography, such as the 1981 Rolling Stone cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shot the day of his death; Demi Moore’s pregnant Vanity Fair cover, and more recently Miley Cyrus’s controversial semi-nude Vanity Fair shot.

Who are your favorite geeky couples?

GeekMom 2011 Holiday Gift Guide #7: Miscellaneous

The seventh and final edition of our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide contains everything that didn’t fit under one of the other topics. We have music, videos, and other ideas. What are your last minute holiday gift ideas?


Tony Bennett, Duets II
Bennett is not who you immediately picture when you think “geeky singer” but my interest was piqued when I saw that one of the songs, The Lady is a Tramp, was with Lady Gaga, who’s become something of a hero to freaks and geeks. I was even more interested when I saw the video of The Lady is a Tramp and realized, for the first time, that Lady Gaga has a fabulous voice. Both the song and video are playful and fun. Other highlights of this collection of classic songs good for romantic nights include Blue Velvet with K.D. Lang and Speak Low with Norah Jones. There’s also Body and Soul with the late Amy Winehouse, which is lovely and poignant.

Seeking Major Tom by William Shatner
Seeking Major Tom is Shatner’s exploration of many spaced-themed popular songs and is based on the idea that so many songs stem from David Bowie’s Space Oddity. He is aided in this project by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Brad Paisley, Peter Frampton and Sheryl Crow.

Image source: Jonathan M Shiff Productions

No Ordinary Girl (H2O: Just Add Water)
$3.00 or less per book
H2O: Just Add Water is an Australian TV series about three teenaged girls who just happen to turn into mermaids when they get wet. It’s a playful series suitable for mermaid fans of all ages and geared toward an audience slightly younger than the teenagers depicted on the show. The entire series is available for streaming through Netflix and Amazon, but there’s also a series of books for the new chapter book reader in your family.


Caldecott Favorites
This three disc DVD set includes several well-loved stories that have been brought to life. All of the stories are Caldecott Medal Winners. This collection includes Robert McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats as well as many more.

Image © BBC

Doctor Who: Series Six Soundtrack
The long awaited soundtrack for the Doctor’s sixth series will be released in the UK just in time for Christmas. For those of us who await the soundtracks as much as shows and films themselves, this is a truly exciting release. With the soundtrack of series five being considered one of the best yet, this two CD set has a lot to live up to.

Image © We Are Hicksville

Reel Heroes: DVD & Blu-Ray Re-Issues
£9.99 Blu-Ray/£4.99 DVD
Exclusive to HMV, these re-issued DVDs and Blu-rays of classic geek movies have such beautiful covers you’ll want to own them all, even the films you don’t particularly like.

For Adults Only, Because It’s Not Always About the Kids (some suggestions by Corrina Lawson)

I know it’s not a regular subject here but, of course, a healthy intimate life is necessary for the well-being of our marriage, at least for most of us. One of the things that fascinates me about the evolution of the women’s place in the Western World is how their sexual lives evolved in the last hundred years. The new movie Hysteria tackles the beginnings of this subject which I find, well, hysterical in an amusing sense of the word. Check out the website for the Antique Vibrator Museum, which tells the story of “female hysteria” and the changing attitudes through time. For specific gift guide items, here are a couple of adults-only links to Good Vibrations for long-distance relationships, and for those looking for a romantic evening away from the kids.

Check out our previous GeekMom Gift Guides: #1: Holiday-Themed Gifts, #2: Games, #3: Books, #4: Toys and Activities for Young Kids, #5: Toys and Activities for Older Kids and Adults, and #6: Practical Yet Awesome Gifts.

How Geeks Invented Halloween

Pumpkins! Image: Nicole Wakelin

The going theory is that Halloween started with the old Celtic festival of Samhain which celebrated the end of summer, and morphed into the holiday we have now. Stories of the supernatural, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving and dressing up in costume were added a bit at a time based on the beliefs and customs of many cultures. There’s a lot of research out there about the whole thing, how it changed, who contributed what, but there is one crucial element that is missing from all of this documentation. The geeks.

I don’t mean the geeks of today, I mean the ones that were alive way back in “the old days.”  What, you think just because they didn’t have comics and superheroes and computers that there weren’t any geeks?  Au contraire. Geeks have always been and always will be out there doing their thing.  If Galileo, DaVinci or Copernicus were alive today, you know they would have legions of fans lining up at cons that would dwarf the crowds that swarm even Stan Lee.

Most geeks of history aren’t that well known, but their contributions to how we celebrate Halloween today are clear. First, you get to wield a knife and carve crazy faces into a harmless bit of produce all in the name of good fun. This means getting creative, picking the perfect pumpkin, and using all of your skills to make an amazing creation while not slicing off a finger. It is a work of art that the everyday geek can proudly display. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s a point of pride. You can bet that the tradition really took hold when two geeks met in the town square, surveyed the scene, and one said “Dude, we can so make better pumpkins than these guys.”

And what about the scarecrows and skeletons on our lawns and fake bloody hand prints across our garage doors? Someone, ages ago, innocently decided to prop a few cornstalks by their front door. The guy across the field was unimpressed and made his look more real by adding a bit of hay and perhaps a gourd or two to his display. Then someone else added a whole scarecrow and you just know that if they’d had elasticity those things would have been decked out like only a geek with a little time and some tech know-how can manage.

The only problem, how to see just how much better, more realistic, more detailed your Halloween display is than your neighbor’s.  Ah-ha! Encourage everyone to get together one night, dress to fit their decorated homes, and hand out treats to visitors like any good hostess. Sure, it’s for the kids, but we all know that they can’t eat all those treats and as a responsible parent you’ll need to confiscate some.  And eat it.  All while you sit amid your Halloween themed-lawn decorations, sure that no one can touch your mad skills.  Just wait until next year!

Beam Me Up Scotty! Star Trek Cookies

Star Trek Cookies by

Yesterday was the 45th Anniversary of Star Trek, so all sorts of Trekkie goodness was floating around the web.  Our own Julia Sherred wrote up a wonderful post complete with video that would make even a green-blooded Vulcan cry.  If you happened to have been on Twitter then you might have seen the folks at NASA (the real boldly go people)  wishing the original castmembers a happy anniversary and thanking them for the inspiration.  Geeks everywhere were greeting each other with “Live Long and Prosper” and spouting their favorite lines at every opportunity.  But if you happened to be a baker with geeky tendencies named Darla, like the woman behind, then you celebrated by making the most amazing batch of Star Trek cookies in Federation territory.  I only wish I had the talent and patience to make cookies this cute.  If you think you’re up for the challenge, you can see exactly how she did it and then try to create your own adorable and tasty crew.  Engage!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Date Alyssa Bereznak

If you’re in this room, you won’t be getting a second date with Alyssa Bereznak. Photo CC BY-NC-SA by Isma Monfort

Alyssa, girl to girl, let’s talk.

You went on what is essentially an Internet-facilitated, near-blind date. You say everybody’s doing it, and you admit you’ve heard of some pretty crazy horror stories. So have I. But you know what? Yours doesn’t measure up. Not even a little.

Let me summarize what happened. You went on a date with somebody who wasn’t a good match for you. You probably said something like, “Hi, my name’s Alyssa. I blog for Gizmodo.” He heard, I am a tech blogger, which means I am also a geek and not going to run away when you admit you are a geek too. Then he told you he’s the world-champion Magic: The Gathering player, which frankly, is pretty geek-impressive. Your response was to tell the entire Internet how horrible he is…for being a geek. (Note: This link originally went to the Gizmodo post. It now goes to an screenshot on imgur of the post. It is still, however, not Bereznak’s original post, which has been edited.)

Do you see how ridiculous that is? I’m guessing you don’t. The italicized disclaimer that was added to the top of the post much later doesn’t excuse it either. “Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature,” it says. We can debate whether that’s true or not, but even if we go your way and say that it is, should you be proud of it? That disclaimer says, “Yup, I’m shallow. Not only is that OK, but it’s my right to be shallow, and I’m proud of it!”

Since you’re a single woman, for some guy, somewhere in your past, you probably had a deal breaker. Did you put that in your OK Cupid profile, as you insist Jon should have done with his championship title? Let’s review what you considered the series of deal breakers in this date. Feel free to compare with anything a guy has disliked about you.

Strike one: He “still” plays Magic. Ohs noes! The horror! I haven’t played Magic since high school, but it just wasn’t my favorite game. I do, however, have quite a collection of Steve Jackson and Looney Labs games, not to mention a library of RPG books. Too bad they’ll keep me from finding a date. No, wait. There are other nice, geeky, non-judgemental people in the world, and I married one. Now we play those games with our kids.

Strike two: He said, “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” You probably won’t be cheering him on, will you? I’m glad he’ll be able to concentrate without your bitter face hanging over him.

Strike three: “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” You obviously don’t know this, but gaming is a great way to meet friends. When you’re playing games, you actually get to talk to one another. When was the last time you had a deep conversation during a Brad Pitt movie? Maybe you should try dating more gamers. I would way rather have a conversation with one of them than the “ordinary finance guy” you thought you were getting.

Alyssa, I take consolation in two things from this tale. One, Jon Finkel was saved from you. Two, when guys take your advice and Google your name before a date, they’ll turn up this post and see why they should cancel.

Jon Finkel, I don’t really know anything about you, except that you’re single and spend a lot of time playing Magic. And that’s cool. You keep right on doing it. That goes the same for all the other non-champion Jon Finkel geeks in the world. For every one of you, there’s a non-Alyssa out there who will be the mana for your spells.

Book Review: Nerd Do Well

NerdDoWell-196x300Recently, in the back seat of my car, my older son and his best friend were thinking seriously about their futures:

Friend: So when we grow up, which bar in town will be our hang out?

Son: That Irish pub on Main Street–it’s the most like The Winchester. That way we’ll be set in case we have a zombie apocalypse.

[Ruminative moment of silent head-bobbing-while-gazing-out-into-the-distance ensues.]

Both [thoughtfully]: Yeahhhhhh.


Son [brightly]: Because you’ve got to have a plan!

(Scene: “The Plan” from Shaun of the Dead, Universal Pictures)

Five years ago, when this same son was battling chronic insomnia brought on by “scary thoughts” of aliens and dying, I could never have predicted that our family movie nights would one day revolve around spaceships and the walking dead–and yet, here we are, celebrating birthdays with an opening-night viewing of Paul and using zombie-homage-flick Shaun of the Dead as a future-happiness benchmark. The common touchstone to these family favorites is Simon Pegg–screenplay-writer and star of Paul, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Run, Fat Boy, Run (and ensemble-member in the latest Star Trek film-franchise, to boot).

And now, our friend Simon has come out with a book.

Pegg’s frothy, fun autobiography Nerd Do Well is hitting the shelves just in time for a sunscreen-slathered, poncho-wearing day at the beach, or (for those lucky thousands), perusal whilst shuttle bus-ing to San Diego Comic Con–and my sons and I have had a blast dipping into it together:

  • “He met the scarf-y Dr. Who!”
  • “Oh, man! Coldplay played at his pub all the time! At the Winchester!”
  • “He sucked at had a hard time with those standardized tests in school, too!”
  • “Cool! He met Rick from the Young Ones!”

In fact, there are few geek icons Pegg hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting. His list (just off the top of my head) includes: Carrie Fischer, Lou Ferrigno, Gillian Anderson, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, Steven Speilberg, and George Romero, among others.

The devolution into name-dropping lists is one of the book’s flaws–but not a deal-breaker, particularly when the name-dropping is followed by a paragraph, page, or chapter of film criticism. Pegg’s analysis of bromo-eroticism in Starsky and Hutch, the merits and flaws of the Star Wars prequels, and the socio-political underpinnings of the original Star Wars films are all spot-on, as are his existential ruminations on the heresy that is fast-moving zombies:

[We used] the zombies as reflections of various social concerns: collectivism, conformity and the peculiar condition of modern city living. I believe it is this metaphorical richness that forms the cornerstone of their continued appeal. It’s why I get miffed at all the dashing around in recent zombie films. It completely misses the point; transform the threat to a straightforward physical danger from the zombies themselves, rather than our own inability to avoid them, and these films are about us, not them. There’s far more meat on the bones of the latter. The fast zombie is by comparison thin and one-dimensional…

My older son, the aspiring writer, ate these discussions up…

In reading this together, we skipped around the book (with me editing out the mildly-salacious bits–the boys can discover those on their own when they’re 40 or so): we’d look at a chapter title, vote on  its appeal, and dive into another self-effacing, humorous tale from our favorite anti-hero, agreeing all the while (as Pegg says, himself) that, “Geeking out is always more enjoyable in groups of two or more.”

(Note: I received a free copy of Nerd Do Well for review.)

The Evolution of a Geek

During the launch of GeekMom, there was much discussion about what constitutes a “geek.” Turns out, all we needed was this handy-dandy flow chart detailing The Evolution of the Geek from Dan Martell. It’s clever. Of course, every GeekMom reader out there will notice immediately that there’s not a single female geek shown. I will give Mr. Martell the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s working frantically on a geek girl version as I type. Surely, that’s it!

geeks, Star Wars, D & D, tech
Image: Dan Martell