Geek A Week #18: me!

By Phil Plait | July 5, 2010 7:30 am

geekaweek_front_webI am very pleased to let y’all know that Len Peralta chose me to be his eighteenth Geek A Week geek.

Len is an artist and a geek himself. He drew an official poster for w00tstock, created the zombie alphabet, and does the terrific Monster by Mail. His Geek A Week project is to interview 52 geeks, draw a playing card for them, and interview them. He’s done Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, Veronica Belmont, John Scalzi, Kevin Smith (yes, Silent Bob), and a lot more.

I am extremely proud to join this Nerd Pantheon. You can see the front of my playing trading card here (click it to get the big version), and the the back of the card is here. I love love love this! I’ve always wanted to command my own moonbase. And for criminy’s sake, Paul and Storm wrote the text for the card! How awesome is that?

commander_koenigBecause I told Len my biggest geek influence was the TV show "Space:1999", he drew me as Commander Koenig (season 2, of course — here’s the shot of Martin Landau Len based his drawing on).

Here’s the podcast interview we did, which is about a half hour long. I think you’ll agree that I am, in fact, a dork. One thing I want to clear up: listening to the interview, I realized it sounds like I was dissing comic books. I wasn’t at all! My point was that if I got into comic books I would drain my bank account and do nothing but sit in my office and read them and complain about how Wonder Woman’s new costume is stupid. That’s why I avoid them. I’d be a comiholic.

geekaweek_back_webI suggest checking out all the cards he drew and listening to the interviews. I also happen to know about a couple of folks coming up in the GaW project that I think you’ll like, too, so you should subscribe to the RSS feed for it and also follow Len on Twitter.

My sincere thanks to Len, Paul and Storm, and to the many people with obviously suspect taste who suggested me for this honor.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: About this blog, Geekery, Humor, SciFi

Comments (29)

  1. AngusR

    Got to say that the Eagle Transporter appears a little short and is missing the landing pads and the main engines. Let’s assume that it’s badly damaged and Alan is trying frantically to get it back to Alpha.

  2. Jamey

    “Visible only *to* his old station…”

    Funny card, though!

  3. Allen

    Pretty awesome, and I was worried you were slamming comic books, but were hypocritical enough to like comic book characters. That would’ve been just weird.

  4. I just spent a few moments asking myself which playing card from an ordinary deck would best represent Phil Plait, and my indisputable conclusion follows.

    Phil, you are thinking of the Ace of Diamonds.

    OK, I’m no Derren Brown, but here’s how I look at it. Ace is for the personality, diamond is for the astronomy (like a diamond in the sky etc), and the whole card resembles one of those photographs oft featured on the blog that are visually simple but spectacular in meaning.

  5. Zucchi

    Newton, Copernicus and Galileo in a fight? Throw Tycho Brahe in there and he’d kick all their asses!

  6. steven

    A reference to Space: 1999. I love it.

  7. Peter Davey

    A “geek” is/was a name given to a performer in an American carnival, who would “entertain” the audience by biting the heads from live chickens. Tastes having improved, the term is now used to describe people who show an unhealthy interest in reading and writing.

    If you consider that I am taking the matter too seriously, read Stephen Jay Gould’s “Bully for Brontosaurus”, in which he refers to a “litany of hatred” made up of words such as nerd, geek, wonk, doofus, etc, and the harm it has done to many young minds.

    I really don’t think that the possible loss of scientific talent through intimidation – peer pressure – is a trivial matter.

  8. Peter Davey (6): Word meanings change. The gay community took back the word “queer”, and we’ve taken back the word “geek”. The definition you use is old, and hardly used anymore, whereas the definition as I use it is here held dear by tens of millions of people.

    Gould’s essay is out of date as well; the words geek and nerd no longer have the connotation they did, and are not effective as insults any more. Geeks are running this planet now.

  9. Szwagier

    Completely OT, but can I just point out this image to all the geeks and nerds. Planck does its microwaving stuff.

  10. Peter Laws

    Dude, there may be 52 of them, but they are *trading* cards, not *playing* cards!

  11. Nice card. Congrats BA. :-)

    Would I be the only one thinking the cartoon on the back looks like a younger and (slightly) differently dressed version of the old “government” ninja character in the awesome Ninja Scroll anime /manga? He even holds a shadow planet! Hmm … ;-)

  12. Messier Tidy Upper

    @7. Peter Davey : The term has, largely, been reclaimed.

    Although being described as a geek tends to be an insult, the term has recently become more complimentary, or even a badge of honor, within particular fields. This is particularly evident in the technical disciplines, where the term is now often a compliment, denoting extraordinary skill. Nerd Pride Day has been observed on May 25 in Spain since 2006 (May 25 being the world premiere date of Star Wars and also Towel Day). The holiday promotes the right to be nerdy or geeky, and to express it in public without shame. A new convention, Geek.Kon, has sprung up in Madison, Wisconsin with a purpose to celebrate all things geek. … {SNIP!] … use the term geek to signify helpful technical abilities. In recent history, some geeks have cultivated a geek culture, such as geek humor and obscure references on t-shirts. The so-called geek chic trend is a deliberate affectation of geek or nerd traits as a fashion statement.

    From : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geek

  13. magetoo

    BA, Messier Long Nickname:

    And shorter; the fact that someone actually needs to mention what the word used to mean already more or less implies that it no longer “naturally” has the same meaning.

    </language geek>

  14. Anonym

    Why did the illustrator shift the eye-focus and lip-line of your caricature from that of the original model? … makes your character look uneasy, unassured, apologetic, ashamed, incompetent, insecure, fearful, … completely opposite of all the positive characteristics exhibited by the model.

  15. locke

    “geek and nerd not effecitve as insults anymore”. wow, you’ve been out of high school WAY too long! Being known as either one will still limit your prom date to another geek or nerd, among many other things. Just because geeks and nerds have learned (or been forced?) to embrace the terms doesn’t mean that the terms are powerless, just less powerfull, which is of course the reason for embracing them. Do something stupid like using the f word to describe a gay acquinatance and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll learn the difference, fast.

  16. keplerlover

    Ah, a Space 1999 fan huh? That explains a lot :) .

  17. TWalker

    I’m so proud of you!!!

  18. liisam

    Am I the only one to notice it says “astonomy” instead of “astronomy” on the back of the card?

  19. Paul

    The blue jacket with the white trim has a Prisoner-esque look to it.

    The Village as part of Moonbase Alpha? Escape would be more difficult.

    Queue the old ITV logo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsWlMGwAs2c

  20. Charles Evo

    Star Trek is at a 45 degree angle.

  21. Len

    liisam: Thanks for the heads up. I’ve corrected the card on Flickr, but not at the Tumblr blog. I’ve also amended the wording.

  22. Peter Davey

    Earlier this year, the “Independent” newspaper published an article on the increased pressure “gifted” children faced from their classmates in this country. Part of the blame was placed on the growing popularity of American “teen” movies in which anyone with any sort of academic leaning is invariably portrayed as inept, awkward, grotesque, etc.

    Give a dog a bad name…

    Incidentally, with regard to the status of intelligence, I notice that the Federal govt. spends some 2.6 cents on programmes for gifted children out of every $100 spend on education.

    If this is victory, it seems remarkably like defeat.

  23. Darren Garrison

    Interesting– when I first saw that, I thought you were drawn as a very skinny guy in an all white suit with your hands behind your head, like so:

    http://img51.imageshack.us/img51/7852/90313323.jpg

    Okay, maybe not all THAT interesting…

  24. Tim McCormley

    “The universe is cool enough without making up crap about it.”

    I think I just found my new sig!

  25. I dig the influence, but if it were me, I would have chosen the Koenig Year One look. Season Two just had too many flaws for my liking, although the jackets were a bit sharp.

    Congratulations for your little piece of immortality. :)

  26. They obviously haven’t got your battle cry correctly, though: Isn’t it supposed to be “Holy Haleakala!”?

  27. itskurtins

    I have been reading you for a while now and know of your growing up with Space 1999. Very geeky. I grew up in the fifties and I was at a loss as to what was that science fiction tv show that I was so into? So as I was sitting here I remembered Flash Gordon. I was never into the comic in the news papers. Just the old serial movies from the 1930″s. Their were three of them, I could not say which was my favorite.

  28. Michael Kingsford Gray

    It looks as though the inimitable Crispian Jago’s idea® has been usurped!!

  29. But … but … doesn’t it bug you that the whole PREMISE of _Space: 1999_ requires a nuclear explosion on the surface of the moon to propel it at FASTER-THAN-LIGHT SPEEDS between solar systems?

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