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come on. admit it.
by joe procopio (@jproco)
pop culture

Man, this is painful.

I, like many of you, have fallen deeply for Lost. Everything about that series has me hooked; the ridiculously long and complex story arc, the crisper than crisp writing, the invariable yet completely unexpected weekly cliffhanger.

But, like a growing number of you, I have also started to complain about some shortcomings; the intermittent new episodes, the sudden slowing of the pace to a near crawl, the continual foreshadowing of twists that I've already lost interest in.

Basically, Lost has hit its sophomore slump a little early. And, while it's still probably the best thing on the networks, it has been eclipsed, in my mind anyway, by... oh, this is killing me...

Battlestar Galactica.

This Sci-Fi Channel series, sprung from last year's successful miniseries run, is essentially a re-imagining of the 1979 original, which itself was a knock-off of Star Wars groomed for the small screen.

I know. It should have sucked. A lot.

I was way into the 1979 original, being young and spacey at the time, so I had to at least check out the miniseries. And it was all right. Not bad. Much better than I had been expecting. It also rated quite well, enough to earn a 13-episode run.

That 13-episode run is unreal. So much so that it's making Lost look a little episodic, a little played, a little boring.

Ron Moore is the Joss Whedon of geek (is that redundant?). James Callis, playing a totally satisfying contradiction of good and evil, and Katie Sachoff, the much-maligned female Starbuck, are absolutely brilliant. The story arc is more complex and longer than Lost, they've even copied Lost's use of the prologue to hit points from the series that directly impact that night's episode. And the twists and cliffhangers are slightly better, which means they're slightly better than outstanding.

But it's so awkwardly, sheepishly, nervously difficult to admit that my new favorite show, the one I can't wait to see each week, is effing Battlestar Galactica on the effing Sci-Fi Channel.


And that got me to thinking, we all have nerd skeletons in our closet - in fact some of us have them right out in the rumpus room, wearing Star Trek: TNG uniforms. So in an effort to finally make it safe to admit that we all have nerd inclinations, I thought I'd out my most serious transgressions, rate them with the nerd scale, and publish them for your disdain-and-ultimate-respect.

Plus, I really want to have someone to talk to about the Galactica season finale.

The Nerd Scale from low (trace amounts of nerd) to high (all nerd, all the time)
1 - Samuel L. Jackson
2 - Harrison Ford
3 - Ewan McGregor
4 - Patrick Stewart
5 - Leonard Nimoy

So, for example, Battlestar Galactica rates a Nimoy on the nerd scale.


We'll start with a middle-of-the-nerd-road choice. Sure, if I was geeking out on PC games, especially those Everquest role-play deals, then you would never know about it. Ever. But come on, everyone has a console, and somehow the XBox is a little hipper-than-thou. Pick any ten people you know, and I will bet 2 of them have played either Halo or Halo 2 or both - unless all you know is babies and old people.

Yeah, but then there's Knights of the Old Republic (also I and II), which combines the geekery of Star Wars and a role-playing game. It apologizes for itself with a great story and by being mostly action and hack-and-slash based, but somewhere inside that black box, a thirty-seven-sided die is being digitally rolled.

Nerd Rating: Stewart

Fantasy Football

Also falls squarely into the "everybody's doing it" camp. It's gambling, after all, combined with the All-American tradition of wearing an ass groove into your couch during 12 consecutive hours of Sunday football. But I'm no longer watching the football. I'm on the web, tapping into each game's digital play-by-play to check rushing totals and botched field goals.

Nerd Rating: Ford


From sorta gambling to actual gambling. What could be nerdy about Las Vegas? Okay, discount the Excalibur hotel. However, I'm no longer partying in Vegas. I'm gambling in Vegas. I'm at the tables at least 12 hours a day, no exaggeration. I've graduated from $5 tables to $10 and $15, even $25 if I have to. I'm playing multiple hands at once, and hiding chips in my shirt pocket in hopes that I will forget that they're there. But hey, I'm drinking for free, so that's cool.

Nerd Rating: Jackson


As a musician, you can't help respect this British group/trio/duo that turned new wave into no wave and evolved into the second coming of the Beatles. But side by side with their proto-punk are snooty offerings like Skylarking - including the orchestral "Ballet for a Rainy Day" and "1000 Umbrellas" - and Apple Venus - with the symphonic "River of Orchids." This makes it hard to blast those cellos and bassoons with the windows down on a sunny day.

Nerd Rating: McGregor

'80s Teen Romps

My wife hates it when we're scrolling through the onscreen cable guide and she sees either the word "Real" or the word "Genius." This Val Kilmer vehicle is still one of my favorite movies of all time and I can watch it any day, any time, regardless of how many times I've seen it or how recently. Same goes for Weird Science or anything from John Hughes.

Nerd Rating: Ford

The '80s Themselves

I'll admit I've worn a sportcoat with a turquoise shirt, but it was 1985. Mostly, my '80s nostalgia is T-shirt and jeans kind of stuff. But again, there's no subtler tip of the nerd hat than blasting "My Sharona" on the way to the drug store.

Nerd Rating: Stewart

[adult swim]

I may not be an authority on this, as I'm only a fan of the comedy block. And my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek when I call Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law great television. But owning up to that is a short step away from Inuyasha and... digital anime hotties of all stripes. Eek. I'm not saying it's lame... well, screw it, I am saying it's lame.

Nerd Rating: Nimoy

Clark Howard

This is supernerd, but it's sort of cult because he hasn't blown up yet. Syndicated out of Atlanta, this cheap, dorky, likeable genius is on my radio every morning with "better ways for you to spend less, save more, and avoid getting ripped off."

At first, it's annoying, from the dated Fine Young Cannibals opening theme to his squeaky, sunshiney voice to the old-school bomb and alarm noises whenever someone calls in asking about a pyramid scheme or a Nigerian lottery. But it's addictive as hell, and it's got me contemplating my own financial empire one nickel at a time.

So nerdy. My wife has taken to calling me "Joey Save-A-Buck."

Nerd Rating: Nimoy

And there you have it, my nerdiness in a nutshell, packaged and stamped for your disapproval. I just hope I'm not alone. I believe that, deep down, we all know the shame of getting caught standing next to a seven-foot-high dragon display rack in the Sci-Fi aisle at Barnes & Noble because we wanted to see the last Douglas Adams book (McGregor).

Just like in Revenge of the Nerds (surprisingly, Stewart), this one admission should lead to another, and then another, until we all admit that we're all a little bit - maybe a tiny speck - maybe just a hint of nerd.

Just don't tell anyone else.


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

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tim lockwood
4.4.05 @ 1:11a

I don't know how nerdy this might make me (which is probably an indication of just how nerdy it is), or if nerdiness is even the right scale on which to measure this, but ...

I love antique shops. Not just any antique shops, but those where you can find things like old victrolas and cabinet-style radios from the '30s and '50s televisions. They have to have old reading material like magazines from the '40s-'60s with lots of ads ("See the all-new 1958 Edsel at a dealer near you!") and cool off-base articles ("The Space Race: Why The Soviet Union Will Win"). And ever increasingly, they have to have things that I recognize from when I was a kid. Fortunately, I have plenty of such shops around my area to satisfy me.

If I had to rate myself on your scale, I would be beyond Nimoy; perhaps a Doohan.

robert melos
4.4.05 @ 1:51a

I'm scifi obsessive. I don't just mean television or film, but books as well. I loved the original Galactica, but this new one is fantastic. However, the only series that hasn't ended up leaving me feeling a bit letdown is Farscape. By far my all time favorite to date. I fall somewhere between Stewart and Nimoy.

russ carr
4.4.05 @ 8:10a

Tim, I've got an old issue of Life from the 50s that you'd love... all about how those new battlefield atomic weapons will give US infantrymen a fighting edge against "the enemy."

After nearly a decade of trying to beat a longstanding Trek addiction (made easier by the declining quality of the stuff) I'm nearly clean. And fortunately since I have to download BSG from the Internet (the very dedication to do so is, as Tim suggests, of Doohanian merit) I can keep it at arm's length. I've had the entire season for a couple of months, but I'm only just now getting to watch the last eight episodes.

Of course, most weeks I download Lost, too.

I'm not running a fantasy ballclub this season. No time.

joe procopio
4.4.05 @ 8:20a

Antique shops: Stewart.

Watching 1979 Battlestar Galactica as a kid in 1979: McGregor with Nimoy tendencies.

Watching 1979 Battlestar Galactica as an adult in 2005: Total Nimoy.

As I try to illuminate in my column, just because something is good, that doesn't mean it's cool. And vice-versa. So Farscape? Nimoy. Be proud of it!

roger striffler
4.4.05 @ 9:26a

Ok, Joe...So I'm assuming that owning the entire 70's Battlestar series on DVD rates a Nimoy - wanna borrow them?

(We're also totally hooked on the new series...friggin' Cylons)

dave lentell
4.4.05 @ 9:37a

You don't have to be a geek to enjoy the New Battlestar Galactica (it doesn't hurt - thank God). Over 3 million people watch it each week. Astounding considering it's on cable. Enterprise was on a broadcast channel and it barely fares half that audience. I think I was reading somewhere that 30 percent of the BSG audience is made up of women. And I can't believe there's...what's 30 percent of 3 million?... I don't know. Anyway... I can't believe there's that many female geeks and nerds out there, so I think it demonstrates that BSG is a great show that just happens to be Sci-Fi.

And if you're not watching BSG, you know that sound you heard Friday night? The one that sounded like roughly 3 million people all saying "HOLY SHIT!" at the exact same time? Yeah. They were watching the BSG Finale.

As for my Nerd Rating. I'd have to say I'm way beyond Nimoy. Beyond Doohan. Dare I admit that I'm a Shatner? I've even got Galactica: 1980 on tape. Yeah. I'm that bad.

russ carr
4.4.05 @ 9:39a

Okay, now that's just going a bit too far.

trey askew
4.4.05 @ 9:42a

Speaking of Nimoy, he was on Robot Chicken last night. I think I've said to much already...

james wondrack
4.4.05 @ 9:51a

Playing blackjack for hours on end...kida Stewart if you ask me.

erik myers
4.4.05 @ 10:48a

I don't think I even rate this low on nerd scales.

I assume you've all seen the Geek Hierarchy?

tim lockwood
4.4.05 @ 10:57a

Antique shops: Stewart.

Are you sure? Keep in mind, I'm also a parent. Granted, my daughter is only 6 months old, but I think I've already been bumped up a couple points on the uncool scale just by sheer virtue of my parenthood.

As to your scale, I think it needs to be revised just a tiny bit.

1 - Samuel L. Jackson
2 - Harrison Ford
3 - Ewan McGregor
4 - Patrick Stewart
5 - Leonard Nimoy
6 - James Doohan
7 - William Shatner
8 - Jeffrey Hunter

And I would submit that if you know who that last one is without clicking the link, then that's probably what you are.

brian anderson
4.4.05 @ 11:21a

"And I would submit that if you know who that last one is without clicking the link..."

Curses! It's the stain of junior-high Trek-obsession that doesn't go away.

brian anderson
4.4.05 @ 11:24a

Actually, I would submit that Rush is more nerdy than XTC. XTC is pretty nerdy, for sure, but I don't think they can scale the peaks of Geddy Lee & co.

joe procopio
4.4.05 @ 11:26a

Many points here.

I OWN the Battlestar Galactica original on DVD in the Cylon head box.

I... just can't bring myself to refer to it as BSG. But good on you for your courage.

The thing that saves the blackjack is doing some serious free drinking. I am having fun that doesn't have to do with numbers.

Be careful. If you extend the nerd scale out too far you could create a black hole or something.

daniel castro
4.4.05 @ 11:46a

And I thought I was the nerd around here...heh

Seriously, though. Even though I consider myself a nerd/geek, I've never been into SciFi. The only SciFi movie I ever really liked was Starship Troopers. Because, you know, they showed boobies and all. And didn't read the book 'till two years later.

However, I'm a big computer/tech geek. I can fix your computer when it comes to software and some hardware. But I couldn't tell you the names of most Star Wars characters.

dan gonzalez
4.4.05 @ 12:21p

Nerds don't drink Miller products.

Weird Science is epic: Worst pain there is.

I agree with Anderson, Rush is nerdier than everybody but maybe Devo, King Crimson, and the neridiest band ever, Van Hagar.

But XTC is pretty damn nerdy.

mike julianelle
4.4.05 @ 12:33p

Rush is super-nerdy. Science fiction epics dedicated to Ayn Rand? Songs about robots and chemistry? Frighteningly nerdy.

Dear God is great.

russ carr
4.4.05 @ 3:59p

I never really liked Weird Science because there was never enough "science" in it. But I know who Jeffrey Hunter is. And that he was Jesus, too.

Adult Swim isn't nerdy or geeky. It used to be, but then it got all mainstream. But Robot Chicken is good stuff. Hey, GIT YO' OWN COLUMN!!

mike julianelle
4.4.05 @ 4:56p

I know who Jeffrey Hunter is too, but not sure why he's nerdy. The Searchers ain't nerdy. But I'll check the link...ah, I've seen The Cage. Never knew it was him tho. Nice!

sloan bayles
4.4.05 @ 6:19p

Ice is nice!!

That's all.

stephen cook
4.4.05 @ 6:48p

I'm a nerd.

tim lockwood
4.4.05 @ 10:43p

I know who Jeffrey Hunter is too, but not sure why he's nerdy.

Who he is isn't nerdy - it's KNOWING who he is (without having looked) that's nerdy.

mike julianelle
4.5.05 @ 9:05a

No, I had no idea of the Star Trek crap, and knowing THAT is what makes it nerdy. I'm not so sure that knowing him from the Searchers or something falls into the same category.

joe procopio
4.5.05 @ 9:41a

Dave Lentell (above in this discussion) is absolutely right. All kinds of people are coming out of the nerdwork to yak about the Battlestar season finale. I feel so vindicated.


You know they have to bring Olmos back next season, and since they've already killed Starbuck once and Sharon twice and neither of them died, I'll be disappointed when they put him in a coma for a week or two. And if they do kill him off, the show will suffer. Worst case scenario: An Obi-Wan Kenobi situation.

Whoo-DOG! I'm off to go collect unopened action figures and old TRS-80s!

tracey kelley
4.5.05 @ 10:16a

And if you're not watching BSG, you know that sound you heard Friday night? The one that sounded like roughly 3 million people all saying "HOLY SHIT!" at the exact same time? Yeah. They were watching the BSG Finale.

That's exactly right!

Well, except in -our- house, our friend/pusher Dave had given us the eps WEEKS before. But we still had the same exclamation.

Joe, it's true. Saturday, when I should have been doing many other things, I sat down and watched most of -cut- Real Genius.

"You may have gotten 20 points higher than me, but can you do this? twirl

I'm a cute nerd.

mike julianelle
4.5.05 @ 10:33a

"'Rue the day?' Who talks like that?"

tim lockwood
4.5.05 @ 10:56a

More Real Genius favorite lines:

"It was hot, and I was hungry."

"There's a complete hole!"

"Professor Hathaway, are you wearing makeup?"

dan gonzalez
4.5.05 @ 11:58a

I drank what?

joe procopio
4.6.05 @ 10:02p

Man. Forget what I said about Lost being in a rut.


mike julianelle
4.6.05 @ 10:28p

I thought this ep was okay, not as good as last week's. And I don't watch previews, but Heather does, and she was shocked by next week's scenes. NO SPOILERS!

jael mchenry
4.7.05 @ 9:13a

Good ep, although I watched it at the gym, and things just have less emotional impact when you're jogging.

The scenes aren't from next week -- it's like, the whole rest of the season. So don't expect any of the stuff you don't know about to happen immediately!

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