Saturday, October 21, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #21: One day of geek hell



Sometime in 2003, I visit my little sister in Sydney, and it's great to catch up, and the short holiday gets even better when I find a bunch of 2000ads going cheap at a second-hand place in the centre of town.

I'm in a peak 2000ad period, and especially obsessed with the latest deepening of the Judge Dredd and the balls-to-the-wall thrills of Nikolai Dante. So I'm trying to snap up all the issues I've missed over the past eight years, a task that is proving surprisingly difficult, and when I see ones that are only a couple of years old, going for an Aussie buck each, I grab a fucking shit-ton of them.

To be more accurate, I end up walking out of there with about seven of eight kilograms worth of comics, which isn't a big deal, until I remember that my sister's place is a good few kays away from the train station, and I gotta walk there in the early summer heat, because I've blown all my cash on comics.

There have been a couple of times when being a total fucking nerd has almost got me killed, and this was one of them. I sometimes think that if I die and go to hell, it will all go a bit Sisyphus, and it will be something like that endless fucking walk along baking Sydney streets, carrying a dead weight of printed paper and getting weaker and weaker, and getting to the end of the journey, only to discover they were a bunch of issues I already have.

Friday, October 20, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #20: Up all night watching music videos with my mates



And when we’ve all just moved out of home, and are far away from Mum and dad, we discover we can stay up all night watching music video channels until dawn, and nobody is going to stop us. We’re grown ups now, and can do what we want, and what we want to do is watch music videos all night.

We ended up doing it a lot, and every night would end with a mission to the 24 dairy for some supplies, and a climb up some hill to meet the sun. It was so easy back then, but I am old now, and the last time I stayed up all night, it took me three days to recover.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #19: Missing the Battlestar



My relationship with the lovely wife started as a long distance relationship, which meant we spent a lot of time on the phone for a couple of months, before she made the ultimate sacrifice and moved to Blenheim with me.

At the time, Battlestar Galactica had just been rebooted, and was playing on Friday nights, and the soon-to-be wife would always ring up 10 minutes into a new episode, and I would completely miss what was happening. I got so lost, I gave up the series altogether, and didn’t catch up on this missing episodes until after the series had ended. Even though I was really enjoying the show, I gave it up without a second thought, because some things are more important than some TV show.

Spending a Friday night watching Battlestar Galactica is a fine thing, but sometimes a boy just needs to get out of the house and meet some girls.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #18: My first paycheck



The first thing I buy with my first proper paycheck is a new, more powerful TV aerial, so I can watch season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is only playing on a station that doesn't yet broadcast in our area. It's not perfect, and I still have to watch most episodes through the static for another year or two, but it’s my only ticket to the final frontier.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #17: Hungover as hell with David Lynch



For some darn reason, every time I see a new David Lynch film for years, it's at the very end of a drunken, debauched weekend.

Me and my mates head off to Lost Highway one Sunday night, all still hungover from the excellent wedding party we'd all been to the night before; I see Mulholland Drive at the end of a massive bender of a weekend, still tripping from the night before, dry and confused in the cinema; and I'm too old to be getting that drunk at my sister-in-law's 21st, but the massive hangover doesn't stop me from staggering off to Inland Empire the next day.

It's not big, and it's not clever, and for a while I convince myself that it really helps, seeing movies with such fluid grasps of reality, when it feels like everything in my body and mind is turning inside out. That some kind of physical punishment boosts the intellectual connection with these fractured narratives, and these moments of goofball humour and shattering horror.

And when I watched almost all of the new Twin Peaks stone-cold sober on a Monday afternoon, and Lynch's work is as transcendent as ever, it looked like that theory was just a load of malarkey. Then I saw the last episode at two in the morning, and I'm still a bit traumatised by that.

Monday, October 16, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #16: By the pool with the Classic X-Men



Finding old issues of X-Men comics was an absolute fucking mission in the late eighties, but at least there were plenty of Classic X-Men comics to fill in the gaps.

I still have the same issues I bought off the shelves of Baird's Bookshop, all those years ago, and when I read them recently to see if they still held up - shit yeah, they do - I found myself reading a comic I first read by the public pool at the Temuka Domain. I know this, because the back cover is still crinkled from where I accidentally sat on it. I was almost inconsolable about the small damage to the pristine comic book back then, but that damage is now a direct wormhole to that day.

Summer days by the pool with new X-Men comics can feel like they last forever when you're 12-years-old. As long as I've still got the comic in question, they still do.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #15: I’m with Rowdy Yates



When my mum bought me the Judge Dredd roleplaying game for my birthday one year, I thought she was the best Mum in the world. (Still do.)

I never actually played the game – I never played any proper D+D games, the few I tried had shit gamemasters – but in those pre-wiki days, any kind of reference book, filling out the weird and wonderful history of Judge Dredd and Mega City One. Nearly all the useless facts I still have about Judge Dredd, rattling around in my skull, come from the background revealed in that game.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #14 : A Planetary pity party



We were getting married in a month, but the lovely soon-to-be-wife had disappeared for the day to go get shit-faced at a local wine festival with an old mate, so I was all alone in the house on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with nothing to do except drink my own wine and read the Ellis/Cassady Planetary comics.

This was no pity party. It had taken me a long time to get into Planetary – I’d only read the first trade, and by this stage it was only a couple of issues away from its climax (although these final issues would literally take years to come out). But I’d picked up the whole thing for a song online, and it was a beautiful day for a binge read.

I was a mess by the time I got through two dozen issues of beautiful homages to all the crazy genres of the 20th century, and that was only partly due to the wine. Warren Ellis always puts on a hard face, but he can also be a total sentimentalist too, and the affection for all the dumb old tropes overcame all the other snark and sneers. As a love letter to the silly fictions of the past century, it’s unmatched, and John Cassady’s art was shiny enough to capture all that affection.

She might have been the one to get out of the house and interact with actual human beings like a proper person, but the wife was just drunk and sunburned when she got home. I’d been to the glorious limits of genre fiction, man. My head was bursting.

Friday, October 13, 2017

31 days of nerd heaven #13: Uncle Soul comes home with the Robocop



Growing up, my Uncle Soul was the coolest uncle – he would give me comic books and let me stay up a bit late to watch cheesy horror on the TV.  But he took another step up the cool ladder one Friday night when I was staying with him and my Aunite, and he came home with a copy of Robocop one Friday night.

Even though I’d been a total sci-fi geek as a kid, and even though Robocop always owed an obvious debt to Judge Dredd, which I’d been reading since I was six, this was next level. It was nasty, and funny, and biting in a way Star Wars never was. It was also incredibly grown-up, and not just because it was tremendously gory, and left me desperate for more adult sci-fi action, leading down a path towards more brilliance like Aliens and Predator.

Looking back, I was probably a couple of years too young to be seeing such gleeful carnage up on the screen. I had nightmares about the ED-209 blowing my bones away for years afterwards. But it was totally worth it.