Zombies, Mining, and Barnacles

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Zombies, Mining, and Barnacles

Jeeg, PLee and I had a good e-mail discussion yesterday. Here’s an edited version that we share with you.


Re: The Walking Dead . . . suddenly a genre show is cool and if you didn’t watch it, you’re a nerd outcast. I think I liked it better when society didn’t like the things I like.


Nerds spend so much time on the cultural fringes, it can be hard to accept something that hits it big in the mainstream. Heck, a year from now Disney will be promoting the hell out of the Captain America movie, and there will be Howling Commando action figures, and I will say, man, I was into Dum Dum Dugan waaaaay back when.


And for most of society, their nerding out about something is very surface level. I liken it to mining. Average society person sees a shiny rock, calls it gold and moves on. It may or may not be gold. Guys like us see something shiny, really examine it, and if we determine it’s gold, we set up camp and mine the heck out of the land.

I think that ticks us off on some level with the surface nerd comes along and says, “Hey, this Dum Dum Dugan guys is cool!” And we’re 40 feet in the ground yelling, “I’ve been saying that for years!”


I will say this in favor of the non-nerds: when something makes a big leap into the mainstream, it’s oftentimes because someone has done the hard work of taking an old idea, scraping away all the barnacles, and getting it down to its essence.

For instance . . . you ever read any late-70s pre-movie Superman comics? It was the Same Old Crap. Clark Kent and Lois Lane are TV anchors, and I think they might’ve finally met a black person, but it was just so mired in decades of detritus . . . Donner comes along and says, forget Superboy, Krypto, Earth-2, the Legion, the League . . . let’s get down to basics.

Now us nerdfolk, we like the barnacles, so Hollywood wisely paints them up and calls them Easter eggs. So I think the real trick is to give us, say, an Iron Man movie that gets the character across to the non-nerd audience, while still throwing us nerds some stuff like a Happy Hogan cameo.


There’s a whole parallel subculture in music with people who detest it when a band makes the big time and becomes mainstream. And it’s not always that the essence of the band changes, but also that the fandom becomes rife with people who don’t really understand why the band is good/special.

My wife has pointed out various times when she’s thought that my opinion has been based largely on going against popular sentiment. This came up during the Great Chuck Debate of 2010. I responded by pointing out that hardly anyone watches Chuck and it’s almost been canceled 3 times, so by that logic I should love it. That did not help my argument.


I guess I just like my interests to be my own as much as possible. Mainly because that’s how it’s been for most of my life. Very, very few of my peers shared my interests growing up so these things I like are very much part of who I am. And now that a bunch of other people seem to like this stuff, too, I’m feeling a bit crowded out. Which drives me to find more and more obscure things to like.

With some rare exceptions (the two of you among them), I have a hard time being open-minded when someone tells me, “CT, you should watch ________. You would love it.” When Joe Commonperson tells me that, I recoil and now whatever the suggestion was has to fight extra hard to be liked by me.

And nothing against the zombie show, but it’s amazing how a five minute clip that largely seemed to rip of 28 Days Later got everyone in a frenzy. “This show is going to be sooooo good!” How do you know?

Eh, whatever. I’m sure it is great and I do plan to watch it some day.

By | 2017-03-17T03:00:04+00:00 November 3rd, 2010|Categories: Article|Tags: , , , , |12 Comments

About the Author:

Nerd Lunch co-founder and podcast co-host


  1. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Good Pacific Standard Time morning. Ran across a blog this morning that might be right up your alley (or maybe you'll find it an encroachment on your nerd territory. Either way, it may spark some discussion, and I felt need to share). http://www.drunkenseveredhead.blogspot.com. Enjoy one on me!

  2. Jeeg February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I haven't felt what CT describes very often, but one notable exception was during the mid-90s when pro-wrestling achieved mainstream popularity. I had been a wrestling fan since before there was Wrestlemania, so the Johnny-come-latelys did bug me at times. There were “fans” that couldn’t name five wrestlers in the company and would chant “boring!” until the NWO or Stone Cold Steve Austin hit the ring.

    What made this situation different than most was that the poor taste or ignorance of the newbie fans was actually detrimental to the elements I enjoyed.

  3. CT February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the kind words, Jack.

    While I don't want to fully compare what you are going through in regards to your long-time friend to my situation, I've had a similar hole in my life since moving 900+ miles away from Jeeg and PLee. Thanks to the internet, the three of us are able to stay in touch and even build a community here on the blog or in the various social media venues as well.

    We are all glad you found us and have jumped into the discussions. I'm glad that we're able to fill a need for you.

  4. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    All – I'm going to take a moment to be serious here. Try to bear with me. I only showed up here a couple of weeks ago, having been dumped in by the "next blog" button. Even as I've been enjoying the posts from years gone by, and taking part in some of the conversations, that "sane" part of my mind has been tugging on my figurative sleeve, whispering, "Hey, what the hell are you doing?" I woke up this morning with the answer: As I may have mentioned, I just turned 62. In 1961, I met my long-time best friend the first week of seventh grade. He went on to obtain a masters in philosophy from the University of California system (I obtained my own degree from the University of Hard Knocks).He was struck down this spring by early-onset Alzheimers. This is exactly the sort of conversation we used to pursue far into the night every chance we got, and I didn't realize how much I missed it. I just want to take this opportunity to thank the three of you, and all your regulars, for welcoming me to the conversation. I never want to do anything to jeopardize that, and if I ever exceed some boundary that I haven't picked up on, a gentle word (or blood-curdling scream, if that's how you do things) will bring me right back into line. Let me invite you all, if you haven't already, to visit me at http://www.theborderlanddiaries.blogspot.com. You may enjoy what you find there, and if you don't, no harm done. I have just seen your ComicCon video, and I do mean seen. I'm in my office, it's Friday, no sign of the boss, and there are conversations being shouted in English, Spanish, and Tagalog at a volume that drowns out the fighter jets taking off on the airfield. I'll give it a listen over the weekend. What I can make out looks great. Thanks again for doing this; there's a little nerd in everybody, and you're filling a bigger need than you think with this.

  5. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Hi, CT – God, this is fun! Yes, the barnacles analogy is good, and it is a skill that mainstream studios are mastering. You can really see it clearly if you think back to how bad movies based on video games were not that long ago, and how much better they've gotten. But that dichotemy will always exist, and sometimes, for your own peace of mind, you have to engage your organic "nerd-suppressor" along with your suspension of disbelief. As to your friend in the Watchmen dissertation, I live in a suburb of San Diego, one of the great tourist Meccas of the world. None of the guides here force tourists onto their bus at gunpoint. For every story of someone whose eyes glaze over when you get wound up, there will be another of someone who hangs on every word, grateful for the detailed insights that only you can provide. Those are the people who want to ride the bus; you cater to them. Plus, they're the ones with the real interest anyway. Relax and enjoy the ride!

  6. CT February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I definitely get what you two are saying (Cordy and Jack) and I don't deny that I have a role to play as a 'nerd tour guide' at times. Sometimes it's difficult to know how far to go with that though. I was having a conversation with someone recently about the Watchmen movie. She had just watched it for the first time (theatrical cut). I started asking questions, which version, had you read the comic, blah blah blah. And I could tell very quickly that my nerd brain was taking over and moving past the point where she cared anymore about discussing it.

    On the flipside, I love having "nerd intellectual equals" (and I don't say that to be demeaning to those who I consider to not be) where I can discuss the deeper side of these interests.

    Ultimately, I think PLee hits it square on the head with his barnacles analogy. Producers today have to think about both audiences when producing this content. They have to make nuStar Trek, Iron Man, or Batman, or whatever appealing to both the general populace and to the hardcore audience. And it can clearly be achieved as many of them have done it.

    It reminds me a bit of the old Muppet Show. Those were great because they played to so many levels. Kids could watch them because they were silly and puppets. Adults could watch because the humor was still very intelligent.

    Great discussion, everyone!

  7. Jack February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Hi, Guys. I wanted to get my two pence in here, because I have felt violated many times over the unwashed masses claiming as their own something I discovered years before. After careful consideration, I have to line up with Cordy74 on this one. As irritating as it can be to have someone who had never heard of my lifelong passion yesterday expounding on it today like he invented it, you have to realize that, if it weren't for those unwashed masses lining up, money in hand, to pay the gate, we never would have had an Ironman movie at all (for example). People don't make movies, publish books, or do anything else in entertainment without the expectation of a considerable profit, and there just aren't enough tightly focused nerds out there to drive it. If you want to dramatically reduce your stress, and at the same time increase your personal satisfaction, abandon the role of curmudgeon, and instead become a tour guide, a professor, a guru (sanskrit, "slayer of darkness") if you will, and enrich your own experience by enriching everyone else's. You really can do well by doing good.

  8. CT February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    This is a horrible side track, but I've had a similar thought before about actors and whether or not they exist in the world of the movies they're in. For example, does the actor Christian Bale exist in the Batman movies' universe? And this has been addressed before. The three prime examples I can think of where this was addressed were:

    1. An episode of Mork & Mindy when Mork met comedian Robin Williams

    2. An episode of The Incredible Hulk where David Banner met Lou Ferrigno

    3. Ocean's 12 when Julia Roberts' character has to pose as Julia Roberts

    That has nothing to do with anything so why even bring it up? Oh right, because I'm a big nerd.

  9. cordy74 February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    There is a fine line between nerd mining and becoming what I like to call the Ultra Nerd. The Ultra Nerd has not only dug himself a hole to discover the other hidden gems; he has taken off the top of the entire mountain and hoards all the little bits and pieces he can glean from his excavation.

    The Ultra Nerd tends to look down upon everyone else who is not as "into" his favorite topic. This includes the Casual Nerd as well as the Common Person. The Ultra Nerd went to see Return of the Jedi 24 times in the theater.

    This little theory of mine is hitting home especially hard right now with the nearing conclusion to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. I loved hearing all the latest news about the upcoming release of the second-to-last book but got a little tired of hearing from all of the superfans every time they uncovered nuggets of information that no one else knew yet.

    We are all guilty of being the Ultra Nerd about our favorite subjects whether they be music, movies, comics or what have you. What I have been trying to do in the recent past is to not so much heap disdain upon the Common Persons who have come to discover one of my longtime favorites but lend them a guiding hand. As I have grown older (and more mature, I hope) I tend to get more excited when some of my past favorites become more mainstream. That kind of exposure tends to get us more high-quality material such as The Walking Dead.

    Court – The only zombie movie I can think of right now where the characters’ previous knowledge of zombie lore helped them survive is Shaun of the Dead. Good stuff.

  10. CT February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Court, I do plan on catching it at some point. It won't be until it's on Blu-ray though. And maybe not until I'm done with grad school.

    Christian, there are no plans for a Nerd Lunch podcast featuring the three of us, but we are in progress on another venture that we'll be formally announcing soon.

  11. Christian February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    1. Stay away from podcasting or I will fight all of you.

    2. Chuck has wavered a little lately in quality and has made me wonder why I like something so cheesy. But then I think you need a little cheese in your entertainment sometime.

    3. You guys should watch Mike & Molly! Two fat people fall in love?! Preposterous! They don't know what they're doing!

  12. Court February 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I was pretty happy with it. A little disappointed in the complete 28DL rip off at the beginning, but after that it was good. I never liked people making bad decisions in zombie movies, and they didn't make too many. There were some, but mostly tolerable.

    It got me to thinking about something though. If there was a zombie-pocalypse tomorrow, we would obviously use our knowledge of how zombies operate to help us. Have the people in these shows never seen zombie movies? Or do they live in a world where zombie movies never happen. If I wake up in a deserted hospital and see a sign that says "Dead Inside" and see hands clawing out, I know it's a zombie-pocalypse and I should react accordingly. Why don't the characters in zombie movies?

    I definitely wouldn't skip this just because it's sort of mainstream. First episode was good and left a lot of room for more.

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