STUFF

EVERY
GEEK
SHOULD
KNOW
CURATED BY QUIRK BOOKS
This sampler book © 2014 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written
permission from the publisher.
e-ISBN: 978-1-59474-786-1
Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture copyright © 2011 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
The Geek’s Guide to Dating copyright © 2013 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
The Action Hero’s Handbook copyright © 2002 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
The Action Heroine’s Handbook copyright © 2003 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World’s Greatest Detective copy-
right © 2009 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
How to Survive a Horror Movie copyright © 2007 by Quirk Productions, Inc.
Sci-Fi Baby Names: 500 Out-of-This-World Baby Names from Anakin to Zardoz copyright © 2007 by
Robert Schnakenberg
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars copyright © 2013 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM.
Quirk Books
215 Church Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
quirkbooks.com
CONTENTS
GREETINGS!
What Kind of Geek Are You, Anyway?
PART 1: GEEK SKILLS FROM POP CULTURE
How to Perform the Jedi Mind Trick
How to Perform the Vulcan Nerve Pinch
How to Knock Out an Opponent with a Running Wall Kick
How to Stage a Dramatic Entrance
How to Decode Ciphers
How to Survive a Global Alien Attack
How to Survive a Haunted House
How to Kill the Living Dead
PART 2: GEEKS IN ACTION
How to Make an Amazing YouTube Video
How to Create a YouTube Channel
How to Create Your First Comic Book
How to Shoot a Superior Selfie
Tips for Crafting Quality Fan Fiction
How to Handle Yourself in an Online Multiplayer Game
PART 3: THE GEEK GATHERING
How to Pick the Right Convention for You
A Guide to Con Lingo
How to Make the Most of Your Convention Experience
How to Create (Cheap) DIY Steampunk Cosplay Goggles
How to Meet a Con Celebrity
PART 4: GEEK LOVE
How to Hack Your Online Dating Profile
The Best Geek Marriage Proposals (and Wedding Tips!)
How to Choose a Name for Your Geek Offspring
How to Share Your Geeky Passions with Your Kids
Geek Dating Tips from Kaia, Age 7
Epilogue: Required Reading
04
05
10
11
13
15
17
19
21
24
27
29
30
32
34
36
39
41
43
44
47
49
51
53
55
56
60
63
65
67
69
Greetings, well met, hail, nuqneH, and hello,
world. Like you, reader, we at Quirk Books are
bona fide geeks. Our common characteristic:
curiosity, whether about flux capacitors, Unix
systems, magic missiles, one ring to rule them
all, ships, cons, or braaaaains. We know it’s a
magical world out there, but it’s dangerous to
go it alone! So take this e-book on your travels.
It’s packed with excerpts from Quirk’s geeki-
est titles, plus exclusive new content from our
favorite expert bloggers. We think you’ll find
that it’s in-depth, indispensable, and way big-
ger on the inside.
As another famous guide to life would have
you remember: don’t panic. Read Stuff Every
Geek Should Know instead.
GREETINGS!
“ There’s no point in being grown up if
you can’t be childish sometimes.”
—The Fourth Doctor, Doctor Who
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
What was once a derogatory term for a socially
inept person has been taken back by a commu-
nity proud to wear the title. A community made
up of people just like you and me. We’re eccen-
tric, enthusiastic, intelligent, and, occasion-
ally, kinda awkward. But when you get past
the labels, a geek is first and foremost fiercely
passionate about something specific. Whether
it’s comic books, video games, movies, or the
latest gadgets, a proper geek is consumed
with a passion. Read on to determine which
type you are (and see page 10 for more on spe-
cial abilities).
ARE YOU A POP CULTURE GEEK?
The great thing about pop culture is that it makes geeks out
of everyone. And why not? There’s a lot to love (and ship,
and fanboy over) in the world of comics, movies, and TV.
Several kinds of geeks fall into this category, each with
their own unique passions.
THE COMIC BOOK FAN
Strengths: You have a strong imagination (kind of a re-
quirement when your favorite characters die, come back to
life, travel to alternate dimensions, become zombies, etc.).
You’re patient (waiting for the next issue ain’t easy) and loy-
al, a champion of the characters and series that you’ve been
following since comics cost less than three bucks.
Weaknesses: You can be overprotective (sure, Action Com-
ics #1 belongs in a glass case, but most things—and peo-
ple—will be just fine if they are not quite in mint condition).
Sometimes you’re too defensive (this comes from having to
stick up for that one obscure character that you love but
all your friends hate). And, let’s admit it, you do tend to be
overcritical (in comics, writers and artists change projects
at the drop of a hat, so there’s always someone who “did it
better”).
Special abilities: Curator +3, Minutia recall +2, Money
WHAT
KIND OF
GEEK
ARE YOU,
ANYWAY?
From The Geek’s Guide to
Dating by Eric Smith
6
master +3
THE TV AND FILM GEEK
Strengths: If you’re this kind of geek, you’re likely a romantic. Special effects and
lens flares are great, but ultimately it’s the relationship arcs of the characters
that draw you in. You also have a great memory. You remember the important
things: the first date, the first kiss, the first song that Fry learned how to play on
the holophoner in that episode of Futurama (like I said, the important things!).
Apply this to your anniversary, your girlfriend’s birthday, and the names of all of
her friends, and you’re sitting pretty.
Weaknesses: Despite all the CGI, film and video are inherently more real-seem-
ing than other types of media. So remind yourself that real life rarely involves
structured story arcs, supporting characters who lack motivations of their own,
and a tidy resolution in ninety minutes or less.
Special abilities: Sense of adventure +2, Empathic sensor +3, Minutia recall +2
THE GAMER
Strengths: Like comic book fans, you gamers are dedicated and loyal, but you’re
also seekers of novelty (even MMOs like World of Warcraft get stale without
patches and expansion packs). You’re constantly questing and leveling up, mean-
ing you have a competitive instinct suited to the thrill of the chase in the dating
world.
Weaknesses: A tendency to, well, gameify everything around you. In real life, as
in other things, everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. Other people
aren’t damsels in distress or NPCs, they’re coplayers: it’s them and you against
the world, if you can just find a way to be on the same team.
Special abilities: Empathic sensor +1, Sense of adventure +3, Solutionizer +2
ARE YOU A TECHNOGEEK?
Geeks and technology go hand in hand (or hand in . . . mouse?). In any case, even
within the geek community there are those whose facility with the technological
makes them practically wizards. After all, we all know what Arthur C. Clarke
said about technology and magic.
THE INTERNET GEEK
Strengths: Memes. YouTube videos. Animated gifs. Social media. Blogs. You
know how to use the ’net to find out cool new things—which gives you the upper
hand with everything from planning first dates to keeping a relationship fresh.
You like to keep up with what’s going on in the world around you, so you’ll likely
have plenty to talk about.
WHAT KIND
OF GEEK ARE
YOU, ANYWAY?
CONT’D.
7
Weaknesses: There’s a point at which digitizing your life can interfere with expe-
riencing your life. So be willing to dial back on the blogging and downloading and
feed reading so you can enjoy real life in real time with a real person.
Special abilities: Minutia recall +3, Tech know-it-all +2, Wide open mind, +1
THE APPLE GEEK
Strengths: The typical Apple geek isn’t afraid to spend a lot of money on the lat-
est, greatest iteration of some handheld gewgaw he already owns. Translation:
you’re not afraid to sink a lot of time/money into something (or someone!) if you
truly feel they are the best.
Weaknesses: Sometimes a rush to own v11.0 makes you forget how much you
love v10.7.5. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, so
appreciate what you have before deciding to chuck everything and go after what
seems better—whether it’s a nicer phone or a new girlfriend. Also, nobody likes
a snob.
Special abilities: Tech know-it-all +1, Money master +1, Curator +2
THE PC GEEK
Strengths: While Apple geeks might spend loads of loot on the latest shiny prod-
uct, a PC geek is the sort to just build it himself piece by piece. As a PC geek, you’re
patient. You like knowing how things work, and you play close attention to detail.
Weaknesses: It’s great to be a problem solver, but be careful not to be too re-
ductive about it. Remember that, technically speaking, people are not machines.
Not everything that people say and do makes logical sense, and not every human
problem has a logical solution.
Special abilities: Tech know-it-all +3, Solutionizer +2, Money master +1
THE SOCIAL MEDIA GEEK
Strengths: Social media geeks value keeping in touch with a wide circle of people,
which is a double-edged vorpal sword of sorts. On the plus side, this makes you
more comfortable and skilled than most geeks at communicating your thoughts,
ideas, and opinions to others. On the other hand . . .
Weaknesses: . . . if you’re not careful, you’ll cut yourself off from people who
want to spend time with you. Like the general Internet geek, you may have trou-
ble unplugging for undistracted face-to-face time (as opposed to FaceTime).
Special abilities: Communications officer +3, Tech know-it-all +1, Wide-open
mind +2
WHAT KIND
OF GEEK ARE
YOU, ANYWAY?
CONT’D.
8
ARE YOU AN ACADEMIC GEEK?
If you’re an Academic Geek, you probably don’t collect as much as the Comic
Book Geek, Apple Geek, or any of the pop culture geeks. The real basis of your
collection is in the mind.
THE BOOK GEEK
Strengths: You love to read—obviously. Besides being well read, as a book geek
you are likely a great conversationalist, creative, and good with words.
Weaknesses: If you’re a bibliophile, your eyes will immediately dart to the book-
case when you walk into someone’s home for the first time. You know you’re not
supposed to judge a book by its cover (as it were), but you can’t help it. You’re
only human (unlike the protagonists of the Twilight box set you’re casting your
judgey glance on). Instead of treating someone’s taste in reading matter (or lack
thereof) as a red flag, use it as a jumping-off point to ask questions. Hey, may-
be there’s some redeeming value to the Twilight series that you’ve overlooked.
(Spoiler: there’s not.)
Special abilities: Curator +1, Empathic sensor +2, Wide-open mind +3
THE HISTORY & POLITICS GEEK
Strengths: Geeks who enjoy politics tend to be well informed and opinionated.
You aren’t afraid of a good, friendly argument, either. And, most admirably, what-
ever your party affiliation may be, you care about what’s going on in your country
and your world, and you aren’t afraid to search for solutions.
Weaknesses: Even though you’re smart enough to avoid today’s hot-button is-
sues in small talk, take care not to go too far to the obscure side. Adam Smith’s
theories of political economy might be a lot safer than Glenn Beck’s, but they’re
also a lot more boring.
Special abilities: Communications officer +1, Deep thinker +1, Minutia recall +2
THE MATH & SCIENCE GEEK
Strengths: If you’re into equations and concoctions, you really do understand
the world around you. You’re well focused, curious, skeptical, and devoted to the
scientific method. Good news: experimentation works in the social world, too!
Conduct experiments. (Hypothesis: Someone who laughs a periodic table joke is
awesome. Results: Affirmative!)
Weaknesses: Just keep in mind that the heart is more than an organ that pro-
vides blood circulation through the cardiac cycle. No equation can calculate hu-
man feeling (feel free to borrow that line for a Valentine’s card), so you’ll have to
get out of the lab and into the field to socialize.
Special abilities: Deep thinker +3, Solutionizer +1, Wide-open mind +2
WHAT KIND
OF GEEK ARE
YOU, ANYWAY?
CONT’D.
8
GEEK SPECIAL ABILITIES LIST
As a geek, you possess plenty of admirable qualities that are sorely lacking in most nor-
mals. To help you identify your special abilities, here’s an inventory list of the gifts and
capabilities commonly found in the geek gene pool.
Communications officer: Geeks with this talent know how to share ideas and maintain
social connections through multiple channels: via text, Skype, IM, blogging, social media,
online communities, and (someday soon, we expect) subspace carrier wave.
Curator: If you have this ability, you’re able to sift through the dross and spot the best.
Whether it’s a flood of titles on new book Wednesday or a sea of websites all purporting to
be the next BoingBoing, you zero in on the good stuff.
Deep thinker: You’ve developed a capacity to go beyond facts, numbers, and equations
and see the implications they have for the world, the universe, reality itself. Others see the
trees, a geek with this trait sees the whole forest moon of Endor.
Empathic sensor: Thanks to immersive experiences that put them inside the minds of a
wide variety of characters, some geeks excel at understanding the motivations of others.
What would you expect from someone who role-plays a scheming vampire one day and
helps Kratos avenge his family the next?
Minutia recall: Stats, facts, rules, secret identities, scientific principles . . . every geek
carries around an assortment of these in his head. Being able to retrieve them when you
need ’em, though, is a skill not all geeks possess.
Money master: A geek with this talent has mastered the art of squeezing every last cop-
per piece until it begs for mercy, all the better to keep the game shelf full and the lights
still on.
Sense of adventure: That weird restaurant with the unpronounceable menu items, the
new club that hosts bands nobody’s ever heard of, the aloof girl in the coffee shop who’s
always scribbling in her notebook— to you, they’re mysteries to be solved.
Solutionizer: Geeks who spend lots of time pondering solutions to virtual or theoretical
problems can develop a knack for MacGyvering their way out of real-world dilemmas, too.
Tech know-it-all: A certain level of comfort with technology is a geek hallmark. With
this trait, however, you can move quickly to the root (or root directory) of most electronics
glitches.
Wide-open mind: A geek with this trait never judges a book by its cover, whether the book
is a shrink-wrapped anime DVD with a large-eyed kitten-headed ninja on the front or an
alluring neighbor with a weird accent and a peculiar haircut.
Gadgets, sweet rides, and cool costumes
are fine, but let’s be real: your geek heroes
are heroes because they do stuff. They crawl
through ventilation shafts, roundhouse kick
through doors, and fight to the death (or
undeath, if they’re up against zombies). They
take action against every sling and arrow that
life throws their way—and with a little know-
how, you can too. Forget throwing stars,
lightsabers, and Batmobiles. Master these
mind tricks, nerve pinches, and epic martial
arts moves and you’ll be unstoppable.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
“ Wonder Twin powers, activate!”
—Zan and Jayna, The Superfriends
PART 1 GEEK SKILLS FROM POP CULTURE
HOW TO
PERFORM
THE JEDI
MIND
TRICK
From The Action Hero’s
Handbook by David Bor-
genicht and Joe Borgenicht
Obi-Wan Kenobi: These aren’t the droids
you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re
looking for.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: You can go about your busi-
ness.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your busi-
ness.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Move along.
Stormtrooper (waving him on): Move along.
Move along.
—Star Wars
Although Jedi Knights don’t really exist, there is a force you
can tap into to help you influence the behavior of security
guards, stormtroopers, bounty hunters, and fat, pig-snout-
ed Gamorrean Guards alike. It’s called manipulation. Ma-
nipulating your foes can be a powerful tool—it can help you
get past border guards, through Imperial blockades, even
into bars and nightclubs. But use the trick sparingly—once
your foes realize they’ve been “Jedi’d” it won’t work again.
The information here comes from Spencer, “The World’s
Fastest Hypnotist.”
1. Gain your subject’s trust. Listen to your subject as he
speaks to you. Listen closely to what he says and how he
says it. As you listen, begin to imagine what it would be like
to be him in every way.
2. Make your subject feel safe. Be genuine and show an
interest in him. Ask him about his life. Where he’s from.
What he does. Make him feel comfortable. Help him feel
that you will not harm him in any way. Smile. Exhibit an
open, friendly manner. Look him in the eyes.
3. Match your subject exactly in his tone, speech pat-
terns, and breathing. Breathe as he breathes. If he speaks
loudly, you should speak loudly. If he lowers his voice, lower
yours. Imitate him in subtle ways.
4. Begin to mirror your subject’s behavior. Imagine
that your subject is looking in a mirror and that the mirror
is you. If you are sitting together, sit in the same position he
12
is sitting in. As you converse, use the same vocabulary that he uses. But be sub-
tle—you do not want him to notice that you are mirroring him. If he crosses his
legs, cross yours. If he shakes his head as he speaks, shake your head the same
way. This helps put your subject unconsciously at ease and allows you to create
a silent rapport.
5. Attempt to lead your subject’s behavior. You may now be able to influ-
ence your subject’s behavior by subtly taking control. Begin to lead your subject’s
movements, breathing, and vocabulary. Notice that he begins to move as you
move, breathe as you breathe, and speak as you speak. Now that you and your
subject are in sync, you should be able to take control. First, attempt to do so
directly by insisting confidently that your subject give you what you want—say
“Take me to your leader” or “You don’t need to see my papers.” If this doesn’t
work, try the more passive approach, suggesting that your subject “may feel
like” (in his own time, in his own way) taking you to his leader. Keep in mind that
you must stay flexible. You are sneaking in the back door of your subject’s sub-
conscious, so step carefully.
HOW TO
PERFORM
THE JEDI
MIND TRICK
CONT’D.
12
HOW TO
PERFORM
THE
VULCAN
NERVE
PINCH
From The Action Hero’s
Handbook by David Bor-
genicht and Joe Borgenicht
Guard (as Lone Starr pinches his neck): What
the hell are you doing?
Lone Starr: The Vulcan Neck Pinch?
Guard: No, no, no, stupid, you’ve got it much
too high. It’s down here where the shoulder
meets the neck.
Lone Starr (changes hand position): Like this?
Guard: Yeah! (He falls to the ground.)
Lone Starr: Thanks.
—Spaceballs
When performed correctly, the Vulcan Nerve Pinch can
bring to a close any hand-to-hand combat situation or ren-
der an unsuspecting guard unconscious within a matter of
seconds. In the real world, any action hero with skill and a
rudimentary knowledge of pressure points can knock out
an opponent. The pinch can be executed by either finger
pressure or a direct chop, and both methods are described
below. According to Kenka Karate founder Ray Geraneo, the
pinch has helped many an action hero live long and prosper.
1. Locate your opponent’s radial nerve. The radial
nerve, which helps control the movement and functioning
of the arm, is two inches below the elbow joint on top of the
forearm.
2. Press your thumb or index knuckle into the radial
nerve. Activating the radial nerve will temporarily paralyze
your subject’s arm and give you time to activate the brachial
plexus tie-in (see step 4), which will paralyze your subject.
There are two ways to do this: If you can get close enough,
embed your thumb into the radial nerve of your subject, and
then hold and press firmly. If you need to keep some dis-
tance from your subject—if he’s holding a weapon or you
need the element of surprise—tuck all of your fingers into
a fist. Raise the middle knuckle of your index finger so that
it protrudes past the back of your hand. Drive your knuckle
into the radial nerve of your subject.
3. Locate the brachial plexus tie-in. The brachial plexus
tie-in, which helps control normal arm function, is about two
inches below the shoulder. Find the corner of the pectoral
(chest) muscle and move to about one inch above the armpit.
14
HOW TO
PERFORM
THE VULCAN
NERVE PINCH
CONT’D.
4. Use either your thumb or index finger, as described in step 2, to ac-
tivate the brachial plexus tie-in. With pressure still applied to the radial
nerve, activate the brachial plexus tie-in with your other hand. This will essen-
tially deaden your opponent’s arm and allow you to move in closer.
5. Apply pressure or a chop to the brachial plexus origin. The brachial
plexus origin is found at the base of the neck—at either side, directly above the
collarbone. The carotid artery and several nerves run up through this area.
Activating it through pressure or a strike can render your subject unconscious.
When quick action is needed, you can simply use the back of your hand, fore-
arm, or knee—if your subject is low enough—to strike the origin. A solid and
direct hit to the nerve-rich area should disrupt your opponent’s blood flow and
render him unconscious.
HOW TO
KNOCK
OUT AN
OPPONENT
WITH A
RUNNING
WALL KICK
From The Action Heroine’s
Handbook by Jennifer
Worick and Joe Borgenicht
Lieutenant: I think we can handle one lit-
tle girl. I sent two units—they’re bringing her
down now.
Agent Smith: No, Lieutenant, your men are
dead.
—The Matrix
While it’s nice to be a knockout, it’s more important to know
how to deliver a knockout kick. Next time you find yourself
backed into a corner by zombie dogs or a computer-gener-
ated SWAT team, don’t just rely on your good looks to get you
out of the situation. White Lotus Kung Fu instructor Carrie
Wong recommends drawing your adversary into a corner
and using the wall to deliver the boot and cold-cock your en-
emy. The running wall kick will take your opponent by sur-
prise and put you in prime position for knocking him out with
a blow to the neck.
1. Sprint full force toward the corner formed by two
walls. You should have at least 15 to 25 feet between you
and the walls so that you gain enough momentum. Do not
get too far ahead of your opponent—if he is more than two
steps behind you, slow down slightly. If he is less than two
steps behind you, speed up.
2. When you reach the wall, run one step up with your
dominant foot. Plant your foot firmly on the wall at about
waist height. If you’re right-foot dominant, plant your right
foot on the right wall, vis-à-vis the corner; if you’re left-foot
dominant, plant your left foot on the left wall. Lean your
weight forward to compensate for your vertical climb. Keep
your knee slightly bent.
3. Step up with your nondominant foot onto the oppo-
site wall. Plant your second foot on the wall about waist high
but slightly below and diagonal to your dominant foot. Shift
your weight naturally as you run up the wall and “around”
the corner. Keep your momentum moving forward, leaning
your torso toward the ceiling. Keep your knee slightly bent.
4. Turn so that your “open” side spins toward your op-
ponent. Your open side is on the same side as your non-
dominant foot. Your dominant leg should follow your turn
and will begin to pull off the wall. Keep your knee bent and
your foot flexed.
16
HOW TO
KNOCK OUT
AN OPPONENT
WITH A RUN-
NING WALL
KICK CONT’D.
5. Continue your turn and extend your dominant leg in a circular motion.
Swing your leg through the turn with your leg extended but slightly bent at the
knee. Your kick should travel in a semicircular motion—like a crescent moon.
6. Use your dominant foot to connect with your opponent’s throat. With
your foot flexed, deliver a kick such that the flat of your foot connects with your
opponent’s carotid artery. The carotid arteries run up either side of your oppo-
nent’s throat. The most vulnerable point is a few inches above the clavicle, about
midway up the neck. A solid kick to this area will disrupt your opponent’s blood
flow and cause him to fall to the floor and/or black out.
7. Shift your weight to land solidly on both feet. Land with your nondomi-
nant foot first. Bring your dominant foot down in front of your body in a staggered
stance.
HOW TO
STAGE A
DRAMATIC
ENTRANCE
From The Sherlock Holmes
Handbook: The Methods
and Mysteries of the World’s
Greatest Detective by
Ransom Riggs
I rose to my feet, stared at him for some
seconds in utter amazement, and then
it appears that I must have fainted for
the first and the last time in my life. . . .
“My dear Watson,” said the well-
remembered voice, “I owe you a thou-
sand apologies. . . . I have given you
a serious shock by my unnecessarily dramatic
reappearance.”
—“The Empty House” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
It has been said that Sherlock Holmes’s pursuit of the de-
tective arts robbed the stage of a fine actor, a truth borne
out not only by Holmes’s consummate mastery of disguise
but also by his talent for making dramatic entrances, exits,
and revelations. Surely his reputation as history’s great-
est detective was cemented in part thanks to this ability
and the indelible impression his surprising methods made
upon his—what else to call them?—audiences. For though
you might possess all of Holmes’s stupendous powers of
deduction and analysis, without his flair for the dramatic
your name will never be known beyond the walls of the
local courthouse or police precinct.
Option 1: Shed a disguise suddenly. Few things are
more shocking than watching one person become anoth-
er, which is exactly the effect produced when Sherlock
Holmes breaks character while in disguise. In The Sign of
the Four, for example, Watson and another man are sur-
prised when a decrepit seaman comes calling at the Bak-
er Street apartment, only to begin speaking in Holmes’s
voice: “We both started in our chairs. . . . ‘Holmes!’ I ex-
claimed. . . . ‘But where is the old man?’ ‘Here is the old
man,’ said he, holding out a heap of white hair.”
Option 2: Appear where you are least expected. In
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Watson is led to believe he
is alone while investigating Sir Henry Baskerville’s bizarre
death on England’s West Country moors. The doctor has
tracked a mysterious and possibly dangerous man to an
ancient stone house on the moors and is waiting for him
to return, pistol at the ready, when “a well-known voice”
sounds outside the door: “It is a lovely evening, dear Wat-
18
HOW TO STAGE
A DRAMATIC
ENTRANCE
CONT’D.
son.” So surprised is Watson that he finds himself temporarily unable to breathe,
and it is a moment or two before his senses return: “Holmes,” he cries, shaken.
“Holmes!”
Option 3: Reveal key evidence in an unusual manner. The case in “The Naval
Treaty” hinges upon a missing document of great importance, upon which rests
the entire reputation and career of a young man named Percy Phelps. Naturally,
Holmes finds the treaty and returns it to the lad—but rather than simply handing
it to him, Holmes delivers it under the lid of a food tray supposed to contain the
man’s breakfast. “Phelps raised the cover, and as he did so he uttered a scream
. . . and then danced madly about the room, passing [the treaty] to his bosom
and shrieking out in his delight. Then he fell back into an arm-chair so limp and
exhausted with his own emotions that we had to pour brandy down his throat to
keep him from fainting. ‘There, there!’ said Holmes, soothing, patting him upon
the shoulder. ‘It was too bad to spring it on you like this, but Watson here will tell
you that I never can resist a touch of the dramatic.’”
Option 4: Employ alarming props. The frst time Holmes appears in “The Ad-
venture of the Black Peter,” he strides into the Baker Street apartment with “a
huge barbed-headed spear tucked like an umbrella under his arm. ‘Good gra-
cious, Holmes!’” Watson cries. “‘You don’t mean to say that you have been walk-
ing about London with that thing?’”
Option 5: Disguise yourself as a decoy of yourself. Though it’s no easy feat
to pull off, Holmes employed this technique to spectacular effect in “The Mazarin
Stone.” Holmes agrees to leave the room in which he’s been negotiating with two
criminals for the return of the precious Mazarin stone, but instead secretly takes
the place of a wax replica of himself that’s been lurking in the corner. When the
thieves, thinking they’re alone, produce the stone, the “replica” of Holmes springs
to life and grabs it. The villains’ utter amazement is a testament to Holmes’s suc-
cess: “The Count’s bewilderment overmastered his rage and fear. ‘But how the
deuce—?’ he gasped.”
Option 6: Stage a collapse. “We have had some dramatic entrances and exits
upon our small stage at Baker Street,” writes Watson in “The Priory School,”
“but I cannot recollect anything more sudden and startling than the first ap-
pearance of Thorneycroft Huxtable, M.A., Ph.D., etc.” A most self-possessed and
pompous-looking man had come to call and surprised all present when “his first
action after the door had closed behind him was to stagger against the table,
whence he slipped down upon the floor, and there was that majestic figure pros-
trate and insensible upon our bearskin hearthrug.” Should you ever have cause
to fake an illness, this is an excellent way to commence your performance.
HOW TO
DECODE
CIPHERS
From The Sherlock Holmes
Handbook: The Methods
and Mysteries of the World’s
Greatest Detective by
Ransom Riggs
“ I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret
writings, and am myself the author of a tri-
fling monograph upon the subject, in which
I analyze one hundred and sixty separate
ciphers.”
—Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
Writing in cipher, also known as cryptography, is the art
of composing messages meant to be incomprehensible to
anyone save the intended recipient, who (one would hope)
possesses its key. For the interceptor of a ciphered mes-
sage, the first problem is to determine what type of cipher
has been used. This is a matter of trial, error, and educated
guesswork, for decryption is often more art than science.
But as Holmes points out in his “Dancing Men” case, there
are “rules which guide us in all forms of secret writing,”
and if one is familiar with them, it is possible that any cipher
may be discovered and its message revealed. To that end,
we will examine one type of cipher that Holmes unravels
during the course of his career: the substitution cipher.
This is the type of cipher Holmes famously decrypts in
“The Dancing Men,” which replaces letters in a message
with what seems at first like childish nonsense but which
Holmes quickly deduces to be symbols that correspond to
letters in the English alphabet. Using a slightly modified
“dancing man” alphabet, we’ve encrypted a new message:
Having no knowledge of the substitution alphabet used to
create it, how can this gibberish be made sense of without
endless and taxing guesswork? Thusly:
1. Using frequency analysis, the decipherer’s first business
is to classify the letters in the message according to their
rate of recurrence in the alphabet. This too is Holmes’s first
step: “As you are aware, e is the most common letter in the
English alphabet,” he explains, “and it predominates to so
marked an extent that even in a short sentence one would
20
HOW TO
DECODE
CIPHERS
CONT’D.
expect to find it most often.” Of the nineteen letters in the encrypted message
above, five are “ ,” and so we may assume with reasonable assurance that “ ”
is an encrypted substitute for the letter e.
2. Single letters occurring in isolation must be a, i, or in rare cases o. Groupings
of two letters occurring together are ee, oo, ff, and ss. Because there are none of
either sort in this encrypted message, continue to the next step.
3. The most common words of two letters, roughly arranged in order of their fre-
quency, are of, to, in, it, is, be, he, by, or, as, at, an, and so. At this juncture we lack
adequate information regarding “ ,” the only two-letter word in the sequence.
Return to it when you know more.
4. Notice that “ ,” the first encrypted word, contains one previously decod-
ed letter, “ ,” which was reasoned to be a substitute for e. Because the most
common of three-letter words is the, and the final letter of the first word in our
sequence is e, we may infer that “ ” stands for the. This reveals two further
letters of the substitution alphabet: “ ,” a substitute for t, and “ ,” a substitute
for h. We may also replace the “ ” in the final word with t.
5. The partially decoded message now reads: “The e e e e t
.” Since alphabetical frequency analysis is less helpful with words in ex-
cess of three or four letters, turn instead to contextual and grammatical clues.
Being that this is a book about Sherlock Holmes, you might apply a bit of contex-
tual frequency analysis and speculate that the final word in the sequence is the
word most famously associated with Holmes: elementary.
6. With this deduction, one further letter in the sequence is solved: “ ,” which is
clearly a substitution for a. With much of the message decoded, it doesn’t require
a great effort of the mind to convert the message into its deciphered form: “The
case is elementary!”
HOW TO
SURVIVE
A GLOBAL
ALIEN
ATTACK
From How to Survive a
Horror Movie by Seth
Grahame-Smith
Rumors fly. One hundred ships. One thousand,
hovering over every major city in the world.
Tanks roll through the streets. World leaders
address their anxious flocks. Religious ser-
vices are standing-room only. Heart attacks
and attempted suicides wreak havoc on emer-
gency rooms. And then there’s you. Wondering
whether to stay, go, or swallow that cyanide
capsule you’ve been saving for just such an
emergency. Here’s what to do.
1. Don’t be a sucker. It’s a movie rule that dates back to
the Truman era: When aliens come to Earth en masse, they
do not come in peace. Ever. No matter what olive branch
they offer in one purple hand, they’re concealing a ray gun
in the other. One alien? No problem. You’ve got yourself
the makings of a fine coming-of-age movie. More than one
alien? It’s a full-scale attack. Guaranteed. There are only
three reasons aliens come in groups:
To eat us. Apparently, humans are quite the scrump-
tious delicacy. (Though you have to wonder, what do
they eat back home?)
To enslave us and steal our resources. Their plan-
et’s almost out of crude oil, so they’re here to take
ours. (Ha, ha! Joke’s on them!)
To destroy us for no reason. That is, other than the
fact that they’re total dicks. Dicks who (after eons of
evolution, philosophical discussion, and scientific ad-
vancement) have decided that the meaning of it all is
to kill.
Never trust an alien. Not even if they give you the cure for
cancer wrapped in the end of world hunger. Don’t you real-
ize they’re just making sure we’re plump and tumor-free?
2. Stay away from the ships. Let those flute-playing hip-
pies be the first to feel the aliens’ wrath. “Oh, look! They’re
flashing some lights! Aren’t they pretty? I wonder what’s
gonna happen next?” Allow me to ruin the surprise: You’re
going to be blasted with a Xoraxian Krellbor that turns your
bones into lava.
3. Loot. You might think that looting is wrong, but when the
22
HOW TO
SURVIVE
A GLOBAL
ALIEN
ATTACK
CONT’D.
ships begin firing, you can drive over to the local megastore and wait patiently
for one of the cashiers to show up for work. And when you finally grow a brain
and realize that civilization is closed until further notice, throw a shopping cart
through the window and start grabbing supplies:
Food. Dry, canned, and powdered only. As much as you can carry.
A pistol. And plenty of ammo. Not for fighting aliens—for protecting your-
self from humans who decide they want some of your supplies.
Camping equipment. Tents, sleeping bags, flashlights, waterproof match-
es, hand-cranked radios, binoculars, knives, propane tanks, blankets, bat-
teries, and rope.
First aid supplies. Bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and pain relievers are
priorities.
Large-capacity squirt guns. See Step 5 for explanation.
4. Retreat to a remote location. Even the biggest alien invasions are limited to
urban areas, at least during the first phase. If they’re here to eat us, that’s where
the most people are. If they’re here to enslave us, that’s where our heads of state
are. And if they’re just dicks, that’s where they can do the most damage in the
shortest amount of time.
You have no business being anywhere near a metropolitan area. If you’re in
a tiny, long-forgotten town that you’ve been dreaming of leaving your whole life,
stay there. If you’re a city dweller who drives into the surrounding countryside
and makes snarky remarks like “Can you believe people live out here?” go live
out there.
GOOD REMOTE LOCATIONS:
Woods (spring and summer). Leafy treetops provide excellent cover, and
abundant wildlife provides food when the canned stuff runs out.
Caves (fall and winter). There’s a reason we lived in them for thousands
of years. They’re easy to heat, they protect you from the elements, and they
keep you well hidden. The deeper the cave, the better.
BAD REMOTE LOCATIONS:
Cornfields. These are probably being used as terrain markers or staging
areas for the invaders.
Prairies. Wide open spaces have no hiding places.
5. Stay close to water. If you have a boat, now would be the time to get some-
thing more practical than a superiority complex out of it. Aliens tend to ignore
the 70 percent of our planet that is covered in water. If you have the option, drive
a few miles offshore and wait out this whole mess. If you have access to a sub-
marine, even better.
23
If the closest you can get to water is the puddle that forms on the roof of your
tent, fear not. Remember those large-capacity squirt guns you looted? Fill them
and keep them close at all times. If you run into a spaceman, you stand a better
chance of killing it with a good soaking than a hail of bullets. Alien invasion mov-
ies are basically metaphors for man’s overreliance on technology, so it’s almost
always something primitive that brings the aliens to their knees. Earthly bacte-
ria, bee stings, or water.
HOW TO
SURVIVE
A GLOBAL
ALIEN
ATTACK
CONT’D.
HOW TO
SURVIVE A
HAUNTED
HOUSE
From How to Survive a
Horror Movie by Seth
Grahame-Smith
In the old days, spotting a haunted house was
a piece of cake. It was always the creepy Vic-
torian with the unmowed lawn and freakishly
large weather vane.
But that was then. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if the
house is falling apart or brand-spanking new, sitting atop
Graveyard Hill or shoehorned into an exclusive gated com-
munity. Any combination of wood, concrete, and paint can
be haunted. And for that reason, every horror homeowner
should know what to do in the event of a ghost or poltergeist
infiltration.
Remember: In horror movies, you don’t gut the interior
. . . the interior guts you.
1. Confirm that the house is haunted. Just because your
zip code is 00666 doesn’t mean you have to run screaming
every time a floorboard creaks. Sometimes a strange noise
is just a strange noise. On the other hand, sometimes it’s a
portal to a dimension of unspeakable evil.
To help homeowners tell the difference, in 1964 two
professors at the University of Eastern West Berlin (Drs.
Brenton Sabellico and Eric Dugre) came up with their fa-
mous 10 Questions:
IS YOUR HOUSE HAUNTED?
Simply circle “Yes” or “No” after each question. If you an-
swer “Yes” to three or more of these questions, we can
conclude beyond any reasonable doubt that your house is
haunted. Proceed to step 2 immediately.
1. Do the faucets or showerheads bleed? YES NO
2. Did the previous owners die as the result
of a murder or suicide?
YES NO
3. Does furniture rearrange itself when
you aren’t looking?
YES NO
4. When you reach into the refrigerator,
does your arm appear in another part of
the house?
YES NO
25
HOW TO
SURVIVE A
HAUNTED
HOUSE CONT’D.
5. Are there Civil War–era children playing
in your attic?
YES NO
6. Does the house issue verbal or written
warnings?
YES NO
7. Does the temperature suddenly plum-
met if you discuss remodeling?
YES NO
8. Do you feel more compelled than usual
to murder your family with an ax?
YES NO
9. Are Native Americans constantly show-
ing up to ask, “What happened to our cem-
etery?”
YES NO
10. Does the house contain any candela-
bras?
YES NO
2. Once you’ve confirmed the haunting, leave immediately. There are two
things you can’t change in this world: a husband who lets the dishes pile up, and
a haunted house. Both lead to nothing but frustration, fear, and, eventually, a
gruesome death. If the 10 Questions come back positive for a haunting, get out.
Don’t pack up your things. Don’t go for one last dip in the half-finished swimming
pool. Run. Now.
3. Escape on an X axis. If the Y axis measures something’s vertical position,
the X axis refers to its horizontal location. Now, this next point is very important:
Inside a haunted house, moving along the Y axis gets you killed.
If you’re upstairs, do not go downstairs. If you’re downstairs, do not go up-
stairs. Zigzag to your heart’s content. Run around in circles. Whatever you do,
maintain altitude. If you’re on the second floor of a haunted house, crash through
the nearest window. In fact, do the same thing if you’re on the first floor. Yes,
you’ll probably get hurt. But cuts and bruises are better than having your soul
sucked into purgatory with a bunch of dead people who lost their road map to
hell.
4. Be on the alert for common haunted house trickery. You’re eager to
leave, but the house is just as eager to keep you around. Once it realizes you’re
trying to escape, it’ll throw every trick in the bag at you:
The Endless Hallway. A classic. As you run toward that door to salvation,
the hallway becomes longer . . . longer . . . impossibly long. Countermea-
sure: A burst of willpower is usually all it takes. But closing your eyes is an
easier way of neutralizing the effect. Just stick your arms out and feel your
way down the hall.
26
The Zero-Gravity Room. You’re dragged up the walls by some unseen
force. Countermeasure: Easy. Sing Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling”
and act like you’re having the time of your life. The house will vomit you out
the front door.
Coffin Whack-a-Mole. All the coffins from the graveyard you (so rudely)
built a house on start shooting through the floor. Countermeasure: Inap-
propriately grope the corpses. The house will vomit you out the front door.
The Reappearance of a Dead Friend/Child. As the house becomes des-
perate, it’ll deliver some low blows. The most common is recreating some-
one who’s recently died. “Mommy . . . where are you going? Why are you
leaving me?” Countermeasure: If the house isn’t pulling any punches, nei-
ther should you. Address the “person” in front of you as the house and tell it
something that will set it off. Something like: “You should know . . . I’ve been
sleeping in a condo.”
5. Do not go back inside. If you do manage to escape, don’t look back. Keep
running, no matter how many screams echo through the night and no matter how
fun it might be to watch the house fold itself into a point of light no bigger than
the period at the end of this sentence. Never, ever go back. Unless it’s for the dog.
26
HOW TO
SURVIVE A
HAUNTED
HOUSE CONT’D.
HOW TO
KILL THE
LIVING
DEAD
From How to Survive a
Horror Movie by Seth
Grahame-Smith
Anyone who’s killed by a zombie ought to be
ashamed. Doing so is the equivalent of blow-
ing a fighter jet out of the sky with a Nerf dart.
Humans are superior to zombies in every
imaginable way: We’re faster, smarter, stron-
ger, more adaptable, and better looking. And
yet, in zombie movies, our so-called heroes
hole themselves up in a highly vulnerable loca-
tion at the first sign of a limper. They sit around
scratching their heads and growing hysterical
while an army of the dead amasses outside
instead of simply planning a counterattack.
HERO
(gasping for breath)
What are we gonna do? There . . .
there must be two . . . three dozen
of them in the front yard! At the
rate they’re moving, they’ll make it
to the porch in a few hours!
If you’re trapped in a movie that pits you against a partially
decomposed, laughably uncoordinated enemy, don’t retreat:
defeat.
1. Stop being so pathetic. Pull yourself together! You’re
the human! Stop acting like prey and start acting like a
hunter! Of course you’re scared. Your self-confidence has
been rattled by fear. So let’s puff up that chest and review
all the reasons why humans are way, way more awesome
than zombies:
Speed. Humans can walk at a good clip. Zombies
use tortoises as skateboards. Well, most of them do.
(Though rare, fast-moving zombies do exist. Little is
known about their origins, but they seem to be indige-
nous to Great Britain and movie remakes.)
Complex problem-solving abilities. Humans send
robots to Mars. Zombies are baffled by doorknobs.
Weaponry. Humans have a vast supply of guns,
knives, chemicals, and explosives at our dexterous
fingertips. A zombie’s arsenal includes teeth, and . . .
28
HOW TO KILL
THE LIVING
DEAD CONT’D.
wait . . . nope, that’s it. Teeth.
Strength. Zombies aren’t stronger than humans. On the contrary, their
muscles have begun to rot, making them weak and brittle.
2. Arm yourself. At the first sign of a zombie outbreak, raid the local gun shops,
sporting goods stores, and “we sell everything ever made” megastores and pro-
cure some instruments of undeath.
Rifles. The cornerstone of any antizombie campaign. Preferably high-pow-
ered semiautomatics.
Shotguns. Excellent for close-quarters fighting. Make heads disappear
like magic!
Bombs. Whether a brick of C4 or a pipe filled with gunpowder and rusty
nails, bombs are a highly effective means of vanquishing zombies.
Incendiary devices. Zombies are famously terrified of fire, and with good
reason—they’re much more flammable than we are, since their flesh is so
dry. And because they’re not exactly nimble, very few manage to stop, drop,
and roll after they’ve been lit.
3. Set a trap. Sure, you can roam the countryside for months, taking on zombies
one by one, fighting them with knives and fists. But who has that kind of time?
Zombies are cattle. Just drive them to the slaughterhouse. Here’s one way of
terminating a truckload of dead heads at once.
A. Place an explosive device in a confined area and then lure the zombies
with fresh brains.
B. Wait for the zombies to arrive.
C. Detonate the explosives.
D. Take cover.
4. Finish the job. After the bomb goes off, there’ll be bits and pieces of zombie
everywhere. But you’re not out of danger yet. Here’s where those rifles and shot-
guns come into play. Being careful to keep your ankles away from their mouths,
storm the blast area while shooting any remaining zombies full of lead.
5. Burn the bodies. Using a push broom or shovel, move the body parts outside,
douse them in unleaded gasoline, and roast ’em. Take extreme care to keep their
blood and saliva away from your skin, and don’t breathe in the resulting smoke—
it could still contain traces of the zombie virus.
6. Repeat as needed. The great thing about zombies? They’ll keep falling for it.
Why? Because they’re stupid, and we’re awesome.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
PART 2 GEEKS IN ACTION
“ Try not. Do. Or do not.
There is no try.”
—Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Nothing could be geekier than pouring hours
of obsessive effort into a passion project.
Whether it’s shooting for a new YouTube chan-
nel, snapping some classy selfies, or scrib-
bling fanfiction for your OTP, geeks love to
create. So we’ve got expert advice on how to
produce, polish, and present projects of all
sorts. Geeks, assemble! And disassemble!
And shoot and film and draw and write and
remix and edit!
HOW TO
MAKE AN
AMAZING
YOUTUBE
VIDEO
By Liz Vallish
elizziebooks.com
@elizziebooks
I remember the first time I turned on the cam-
era to record a video for YouTube: it was really
awkward. Without a YouTube Jedi master, I
was a lost little padawan. Four years later, I’ve
learned so much, and yet every day I discover
something new about making videos and being
part of the YouTube community. Although I
can’t save you from feeling awkward the first
few (or ten) times you sit yourself down in front
of a webcam, I can tell you how to make videos
you’ll be proud of.
Pick a theme. Consider what you want to your videos to be
about. Do you want to talk about books? Review new tech
gadgets? Show off your drunk cooking skills? To gain an au-
dience for your YouTube channel you should choose a con-
sistent topic. That said, don’t be afraid to mix things up once
in a while. You can periodically try out a new topic on your
main channel or start new side channel to cover different
subject matter.
Prep your shoot. Even before you turn on the camera, set
up some three-point lighting: position a main light in front
of you so that it illuminates one side of you, a dimmer light
on your other side (to lessen shadows), and a third light be-
hind you. Or try one of those floor lamps with the zillion
different bendy arms pointed in your general direction.
Should you use a script? Personally, I will outline what
I’m going to say, but I avoid going into too much detail be-
cause I want to sound natural. I have friends who script,
though, and some go as far as using teleprompter apps. You
can use whichever method you find most comfortable. This
same goes for deciding whether to shoot with a DSLR cam-
era or the built-in webcam on your computer. In any case,
don’t forget to turn off your television, radio, cat meows,
and other sounds that will surely distract your audience.
Relax. Who said that making YouTube videos is a serious
affair? When I start talking to the camera, I act as if I’m
speaking to one of my fellow book-obsessed friends. Re-
member that you’re talking to real people who are watching
you because they enjoy your content and they want to know
what you have to say. Have fun with it. If you’re having fun,
31
HOW TO MAKE
AN AMAZING
YOUTUBE
VIDEO CONT’D.
chances are your audience is having fun watching you.
Import and edit. Now comes the moment when you hold your camera up to
your computer monitor and yell, “Import! Import!” Just kidding—you’re smart
and you’ve probably been importing your family pictures onto a computer since
before you could speak, so I’ll assume you know what you’re doing. Once you
have imported your footage, use the editing software of your choice to refine your
video (cut those reaching-arm-to-camera shots, add an end screen with anno-
tations and links to other videos and social media, etc.). Use whatever software
you’re most comfortable with, or if you’re just starting out, try a free program
such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker.
Keep it legal. Avoid using copyrighted music. There are online sources that
offer royalty-free music, either for free or for a fee. Using copyrighted music in
your video is dicey: on a good day, you won’t be able to get that video monetized;
on a bad day, you’ll be standing in court facing an angry record label.
ADDITIONAL WAYS TO BUILD YOUR CHANNEL:
Accept change. YouTube changes its layout more frequently than James Franco
posts unflattering selfies on Instagram. The change can be startling, but adapt-
ing and learning to use the new features will keep you streets ahead.
Be active elsewhere. Use other platforms, like a blog or Tumblr, as a cen-
tral place to share not just your videos but other things you love. Maintaining a
presence on Twitter can be useful, too; many YouTube communities have their
own hashtags. And if you can afford to do so, consider attending YouTube-centric
meet-ups, conferences, and other events, like VidCon, Playlist Live, and Buffer
Festival.
Comment on other people’s videos. Interacting with your community and
showing your support for others will naturally draw people to your channel.
Be nice. I’ve seen people get mad over the most trivial thing, like a negative
comment, and drag it all over Twitter and even into YouTube videos. If you’re that
mad at someone, shut down your computer and go outside. Step back and re-
evaluate whether dragging someone through the dirt (so to speak) is truly worth
it. Remember that the person making the comment is not a world-dominating
robot.
LIZ VALLISH is a book and social media addict, so she uses social media
to talk about books! She runs the Elizziebooks YouTube channel and blog
while pursuing a degree in communications and media studies.
HOW TO
CREATE A
YOUTUBE
CHANNEL
By Rosianna Halse
youtube.com/rosianna
@papertimelady
There is no “right” way to create a YouTube
channel. But there are a number of things you
can do to make your channel more appeal-
ing—small steps that will entice viewers into
hanging around for a video or two, or even to
subscribe.
1. Pick your name. Since the integration with Google+, us-
ernames on YouTube don’t work quite the way they used to.
If you’re comfortable using your real name, great. Other-
wise, you can give yourself a nickname and use that across
Google accounts, which is virtually the same thing as an
old-school username. (Or, if you have an existing Google
account that uses your real name, you can make a new
nicknamed account specifically for the purpose of creating
sweet, sweet YouTube videos.) Choose a handle that people
can remember easily—sure, ukbrittanyspears9071 might
reflect who you are, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
2. Create a header. The corporate overlords at YouTube
change their minds a lot. But as of the publication of this
e-book, the header art on your YouTube page (that is, the
banner picture that will make your channel look very fancy
and profesh) should be 2560 pixels wide by 1440 pixels high
and no greater than 2 megabytes. Remember that this im-
age should look just as good in a web browser as on smart-
phones and tablets. A handy way to ensure your header will
look good on any size screen is by using a repeating pat-
terns in the header, so that it doesn’t really matter which
part of the image is cropped. Put your channel name or URL
in the image so people will remember it.
3. Fill in the “About.” Gulp! How do you describe your
channel when you haven’t yet made up your mind about
what it’ll be? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
Never fear: loads of us have no idea about what our channel
really is, even after eight years of YouTubeing. Think of this
section as a way for people to get to know you: Share as
much information about yourself as you feel comfortable
sharing, and make sure to mention your interests so that
you stand out to people who stumble across your channel
and think “hey, me too!” (Example: Rosianna is 22 and lives
in London, where she works with U.N.I.T. to defend Earth.
She likes Twin Peaks, The West Wing, Orphan Black, and
apocalyptic fiction.) Tell how often you’ll be uploading vid-
33
HOW TO
CREATE A
YOUTUBE
CHANNEL
CONT’D.
eos, so people know when to check back for new content.
4. Add web links. Do you have a Twitter feed or Tumblr where you talk about
other projects you’ve been working on? Are these things you want to share with
your YouTube audience? If so, add the links and they’ll appear over your header
art. If you have a shop with merch, link to that, too!
5. Feature other channels. If you were accepting an award at the Oscars, who
are the YouTubers you’d thank for inspiring you? Whose videos do you watch
the second they’re up? Do you have any friends who are also making videos?
Their channels should be listed in your “Featured” section—partly to give them
a shout-out, but also to show your own interests and your own taste in online
videos.
6. Create your playlists. Once you have a few videos uploaded, it’s time to be-
gin the fun of organizing them. Playlists are an easy way for you to group videos
with a common theme (book videos, music review videos, beauty haul videos,
political rant videos, free comic book day videos, etc.). How you group them is
up to you, but if you find certain videos are getting substantially more views than
others, try to determine what they have in common and create a playlist based
on that theme. If your most popular videos are not thematically similar, build a
“greatest hits” or “essential viewing” playlist.
Good luck, and happy YouTubing!
ROSIANNA HALSE ROJAS has been making video blogs at youtube.com/
rosianna since 2006. She was a 2012 YouTube Next Vlogger. By day,
Rosianna is executive assistant to New York Times best-selling author
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars).
HOW TO
CREATE
YOUR
FIRST
COMIC
BOOK
By Johnny Zito
@johnnyzito
I made my first comic book when I was ten
years old by folding several sheets of legal-
size paper and stapling them twice along the
crease. The resulting pamphlet was slightly
smaller than a Marvel or DC comic, but the
desired effect was achieved. For about a
month, I worked tirelessly to fill every page
with superheroic drama. I even drew ads for
sea monkeys and X-ray specs on the inside
cover.
When I was finished, I shared issue one of Freedom Force
with my friends. For a whole day the comic was passed
from one kid to another between classes and covertly read
behind math textbooks. At the end of the day I collected
my labor of love from Peter Pimento, the last fifth-grader
to read my comic. I timidly asked him what he thought. He
said, “It was okay. The guy with the jetpack is cool.”
All of my time and effort had amounted to little more
than a shrug. But that was all the encouragement I needed.
I was hooked. I began work on issue two immediately.
Anyone can make a comic book—and everyone should.
Here’s what you need to know:
Making comics can be very solitary work. You spend a lot
of time wrapped up inside your own head. So the best ad-
vice I can give on the subject of creating comics is to make
comics you would want to read. The writer is the first
audience member.
Don’t overthink it. Get rolling. Start right now. Write
your story in ten words. Pretend we’re at a bus stop and
you want to tell me about the great story you just read, but
we’re waiting for two different buses. All we have time for
is the title—which had better be catchy, or I’ll forget it—and
a brief plot description. What would you say? This is easier
than you think: Breaking Bad is about a chemistry teach-
er who sells drugs to pay for his cancer treatments. Com-
munity is about a group of unlikely friends starting over at
a crummy college. Batman is about a vigilante who hunts
criminals with gadgets.
Once you know what your comic is about, keep rewriting
those ten words, adding and expanding the story until
35
HOW TO
CREATE YOUR
FIRST COMIC
BOOK CONT’D.
it’s a script. Your idea will take form, you’ll be able to clearly explain the plot and
character. But don’t forget those ten words; when the comic book is complete,
you’ll use them to sell your project when prospective customers ask, “What’s it
about?”
Once you have a story, add pictures. If you’re an artist, this step is quite
easy: simply chain yourself to a desk and forsake all human contact until the
comic is drawn. If you haven’t an artistic bone in your body, then it’s time to look
for an illustrator. Remember, you get what you pay for, so expect better results
if your artist is properly compensated. Try to find someone whose style comple-
ments your story. Trust your artist and allow him or her the creative freedom to
explore your world.
After the art is done, it’s time to publish, either with a publisher, on the web, or
by self-publishing. Shopping a book to comics publishers can be tricky. Most
companies don’t accept unsolicited submissions, which is to say you need an
agent to get in the door. Conventions are a great way to meet people in the
biz, but no one wants to read your submission there, so leave a copy with anyone
who’s interested and don’t be a nuisance. Be professional, and submit a polished
package to potential agents.
Maybe you want to self-publish and hock your graphic novels directly
to readers. Lots of creators pay out of pocket to print their books and then they
tour conventions promoting their work and building a fan base. This can be a full-
time job that requires a lot of travel and a bit of capital investment, but if you have
the time and money to invest, the complete creative control is its own reward.
These days, web comics are insanely popular, and Internet publishing is the
most cost-effective method. Consistent release of a quality product builds an au-
dience hungry for merchandise and collected editions. Some creators use the In-
ternet as a stepping stone to self-publishing, but just as many cartoonists make
their careers on the Web, building niche audiences.
The only way to discover which method works best for you is to experiment.
Eat, breathe, and sleep comics; keep making them and the people who read fun-
ny books will find you. Of course, if you just want to have some fun, the old-school
pamphlet approach I used in fifth grade can’t be beat.
JOHNNY ZITO makes comics, T-shirts, and movies about monsters, girls,
and music. He lives with his childhood friends in a big South Philly row
home, where they stay up late jumping on beds and eating pizza.
HOW TO
SHOOT A
SUPERIOR
SELFIE
By Kyle Cassidy
kylecassidy.com
@kylecassidy
There’s a clattering from your backyard as
though someone’s upended a wheelbarrow of
cans. Then a grunting noise—dog? Hogs? No,
something else . . . there are footsteps. You
peer through the venetian blinds and see a
nine-foot-tall Sasquatch tearing through your
vegetable garden. He seems to love carrots
and cabbage (though not, for some reason,
strawberries).
So you do what anybody would do in a similar situa-
tion. You creep out the back door, hold your phone at arm’s
length, make a giant grin, and snap a selfie.
The shutter noise startles the gentle giant of the forest—
he squeals and bolts into the trees. No matter, you think as
you open Instagram, I got the goods.
Selfies, aka self-portraits, have been around for a very
long time—they just used to take longer. For example, sev-
enteenth-century Spanish painter Diego Velázquez toiled
for months on Las Meninas, painting himself into a portrait
of King Philip IV of Spain and his wife, Mariana of Austria.
And why not? If you’re hanging out with the royal family,
why not grab a little memento that you can share with your
friends?
The selfie is an easy, reliable way to say, “I was here. I
experienced this thing.” Don’t be embarrassed to take self-
ies. But before your next one, let me give you some advice.
Consider your audience. Surprisingly, most people
never pause to think about this most important aspect of
picture taking. That’s sad, because the people who will ul-
timately view your photo have an awful lot to do with how,
when, and how often you tap the shutter button on your
phone. At the very least, the audience for your self-por-
traits is you—but the pictures might also be for your Insta-
gram friends, your college buddies, your family back home.
And each of those groups might be interested in different
aspects of your Sasquatch encounter.
Provide context. A selfie includes, by definition, you.
But fill the rest of the frame with useful information: Are
you at a concert? On top of a mountain? Arrested by storm-
troopers? Swimming? Make sure that the background is
unobscured and that it’s easy for people to tell what’s going
on.
Don’t be a jerk. If you’re taking a selfie with a celebrity,
37
HOW TO SHOOT
A SUPERIOR
SELFIE CONT’D.
don’t take one photo, look at it, and then ask to take another. Take a bunch of pho-
tos quickly. Celebs are asked to be in photos like this all day, so the less of their
time you waste, the more they’ll like you. If you’re waiting in a signing line at an
event, use the time before your turn comes to make sure your phone is switched
on and turn the shutter sound on so you can tell that it’s working. When your turn
comes, ask quick permission (“Can I take a selfie?”). Then stick your arm out,
hammer out five or six photos, be cheerful, say thank you, and move along so the
next person doesn’t punch you for holding up the line.
Duckface or no duckface? Most anyone who eats with silverware will tell
you never to duckface—i.e., make that obnoxious, pursed-lips duckbill expres-
sion—while taking a selfie. Keep in mind that if the police arrive to find you miss-
ing with just your phone lying in the vegetable patch, the duckface selfie of you
and Sasquatch is going to be the thing on the evening news. When in doubt, look
noble in your selfie.
Unassisted or unassisted? The unassisted selfie—camera at arm’s
length, pointed back—is classic and the most popular and easiest selfie. But now
there are self-timer apps for all varieties of smartphone, many of them free, so
there’s little excuse not to have one. Occasionally you want a photo taken from
farther away than your arm can reach. No phone gadgets? Don’t be afraid to
ask a stranger for assistance. It still counts as a selfie. The bathroom mirror is
another solution (but put the seat down first, please).
The outward-facing camera usually has better resolution. Take the
iPhone 5, for example: It has an 8-megapixel camera, but the iSight camera—the
one on the screen side—is only 1.2 megapixels. People will often employ the
iSight camera so that they can see themselves while photographing and then end
up with a low-resolution photo.
Take a lot, pick the best. It’s hard to frame yourself when you can’t see, so
move the camera around and keep hitting the shutter button. It’s better to have
five pictures to choose from than to take one and find out later that your head is
cut off.
Don’t use the flash. On-axis lighting (that is, the camera flash) is the least
flattering kind of light for a human face, so use the flash only as a last resort. If
you’re indoors, try to position yourself next to a window letting in daylight. Also
be wary of being directly under a light source, which can create harsh shadows
in eye sockets.
Back up and sort your photos. These selfies are your memories, and
they’ll be precious to you someday. Either copy them from your phone onto a
drive you routinely back up, automatically back up photos to Dropbox, or sync
them remotely to another cloud-based storage system (like iCloud). But remem-
ber that forty years from now you won’t want to look through 800,000 self-por-
traits, so every few months pick out the key images that form your narrative and
back them up in a separate folder. You can also print them out and put them in a
photo album just like in the old days (Google “Instagram printing” for companies
that make this easy).
Your phone, your tablet, your tiny point-and-shoot, your 35mm film camera—
38
whatever you use to take your selfies—is a miraculous product of science and
technology. It’s the culmination of centuries of research and fine tuning. Use it!
Write down your life with photos. Paint with this camera thing what poet Walt
Whitman called your “mighty yawp.” The cave painting that says “I lived, I did
these things.” Imagine that one hundred years from now, someone might find
your photos on a thumb drive at a yard sale. Take selfies that will make people
wonder who you were and wish that they had known you.
KYLE’S CASSIDY’s photography has appeared in numerous publications,
including the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, and his documen-
tary photography book Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their
Homes. Find out more at Kylecassidy.com.
HOW TO SHOOT
A SUPERIOR
SELFIE CONT’D.
TIPS FOR
CRAFTING
QUALITY
FAN
FICTION
By Jamie Frevele
@jamiefrevele
It’s happened to many of us—the urge. The urge
to see our favorite characters in our favorite
geek universes do things that their creators
either haven’t considered or are completely
avoiding. Some of the more initiated geeks will
take to Tumblr with their weirdest, cleverest
fan art or memes. Others will go so far as to
bring these untold stories to life in writing, and
this is known as fan fiction.
But what happens when a writer comes up with a story
so great that it could stand on its own, save for the famil-
iar names and places? This is a fork in the road: one path
leads to really epic fan fiction, which can only go as far as
copyright laws will allow. The other path might just lead to
a brand new property—an original work!
Nothing is wrong with writing really great fan fiction.
But if you find yourself creating something strong with a
mind of its own, it’s time for a new universe to spring to life.
Creating your original story isn’t quite as simple as sim-
ply changing all the characters’ names. (Unless you want
to become the next E. L. James—which you shouldn’t. You
should become the first and only you!) You don’t want your
new characters to be “eerily familiar” to the ones that in-
spired them. So think of your altered fan fiction as a first
draft. Then congratulate yourself, because creating a first
draft is one of the biggest challenges writers face. Next
comes the rewrite. Don’t be afraid—you’re going to chip
away at your story and mold it into something great.
What drew you to the story of the property on which
your fan fiction was based? If it was a bitter conflict, a fan-
tastical dreamscape, or a misunderstood villain, you can
still use (a version of) that in your new story. What about
the original work resonated with you? Here is an example
from my own experience as a fan fiction writer. Back in the
late ’90s, I loved the Scream film series so much that when
my favorite character died in the second film (R.I.P., Randy),
I wrote my own full-length screenplay as an alternate ac-
count of the character. It was as if I was trying to undo what
I’d seen onscreen. But beyond my teenage crush on a cute
actor, I was truly passionate what Scream was as a movie.
It was an homage. It was a comedy. It was a terrifying story
of suspecting the people in your everyday life of doing tru-
40
TIPS FOR
CRAFTING
QUALITY
FAN FICTION
CONT’D.
ly horrific things. Not long after I wrote Scream 2.1, I thought it might be fun to
come up with my own silly fish tank of red herrings. Next thing I knew, I’d written
another full-length screenplay, but this time it was all mine. (It was terrible, but
that’s beside the point.)
The stories in geekdom that resonate the most with us contain common
human themes. Spider-Man is about an ordinary, working-class teenager who
learns to take responsibility once he has the opportunity to step up and do some-
thing amazing. Star Trek is about a team working together despite their differenc-
es and becoming a family. The Walking Dead is about being confronted with the
lowest form of humanity and deciding what kind of person you are when you have
nothing left. These are just the bare bones, waiting for you to add meat, muscle,
nerves, and heart.
The love we as fans develop for our favorite stories can be poured into cre-
ating brand-new stories that might just spawn their own fans. The ties that bind
us are common human themes, after all. What story do you have the urge to tell?
And what are you waiting for?
JAMIE FREVELE has written for Boing Boing, the Mary Sue, Geeko-
system, and the Huffington Post. She currently runs the satiric celebrity
gossip website the Frevele Reveille and is a coproducer of NYC’s Monday
Night Fan Fiction.
HOW TO
HANDLE
YOURSELF
IN AN
ONLINE
MULTI-
PLAYER
GAME
By Thom Dunn
thomdunn.net
@thomdunn
Back in high school (we’re talking early aughts
here, folks), I worked at a kind of makerspace/
museum in my hometown with a bunch of my
best friends. After work, we’d all pile into the
cramped computer lab and spend the next
couple of hours tearing each other apart play-
ing Unreal Tournament. There was one guy in
this group who only worked with us for a short
time. And the few times he played with us, he’d
scoop up a sniper rifle at the top of the game,
then squat at the same exact vantage point
on the map every time and pick us all off as
soon as we spawned. Sure, he technically won
most of those rounds, and he was well within
the rules to do what he did. But by emphasiz-
ing winning over having fun, he kind of ruined
things for the rest of us. Whenever we’d call
him out on it, he’d say, “Whatever. You guys
just don’t want to lose to the master.”
Needless to say, we don’t really hang out with him any-
more.
But then, we don’t really have LAN parties anymore ei-
ther. Now our multiplayer gaming takes place all across the
world, without us ever having to leave the comfort of our
homes. Nevertheless, the same unwritten rules still apply.
And here I have written them down for you.
As the above anecdote illustrates, no one likes a bul-
ly when you’re playing head-to-head. You can compete
without being a jerk. Don’t get me wrong, we all want
to win—hell, we all play to win—but when the only person
having fun is the winner, the game quickly loses its appeal.
Soon enough, that person won’t have anyone left to win
against.
When it comes to cooperative play, some people seem
to ignore the “cooperative” part. If you’re going to do that,
why bother with multiplayer at all? In co-op, everyone
should know their role and be willing to communicate
clearly and compromise. Sure, it’s hard when a rookie
winds up with a group of able veterans. And of course, no
one wants to be a n00b. If you don’t have the experience,
42
HOW TO
HANDLE
YOURSELF
IN AN
ONLINE
MULTIPLAYER
GAME CONT’D.
just say so. Defer to the better judgment of the group leader while you learn your
way around the game. Also, do your research. Read up on the bosses and the
general walkthroughs so you know what’s going on, because no one’s going to
want to stop and explain it to you—they just want to play, and you’re never going
to make any friends if you keep questioning their shorthand or messing up the
plan.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a grizzled war veteran, don’t go
barking orders like a poor man’s Michael Ironside. You shouldn’t automatically
assume that you’re the most experienced player in the group and that everyone
else will defer to your judgment. Yes, you should make it clear that this ain’t your
first rodeo. But don’t simply go for the glory and leave the rest of your
gang in the dust. You might be the best player, but as long as you’ve got backup,
you might as well use ’em, right? After all, that is kind of the point of cooperative
play. Oh, and please go easy on the poor little n00bs, for they know not what they
do. Remember, you were once one of them.
In a lot of ways, cooperative gaming is like a relationship: communication
and respect are key. And if you’re looking to forge something long term, you’re
going to have to be okay with going on lots of little dates that ultimately don’t
lead anywhere. Maybe you meet up with the same guild a few times and you have
some decent conversations between all the dying, but after two weeks you go
your separate ways. That’s fine. It just means you’ve got to get back in the game
and play. There’s a guild out there for everyone, as long as you’re willing to put
yourself out there and look for it.
THOM DUNN is a Boston-based writer, musician, home brewer, and new
media artist. Also, he has a Tony Award. You can follow his ongoing ad-
ventures at Thomdunn.net or on Twitter @thomdunn.
PART 3 THE GEEK GATHERING
“Klaatu barada nikto.”
—Helen Benson, The Day the Earth Stood Still
“Klaatu . . . varata . . . necktie!”
—Ash Williams, Army of Darkness
Long derided as nothing more than breed-
ing grounds (sometimes literally) for dorks,
geek conventions are now finally getting the
mainstream respect we’ve long known they
deserve. Because, seriously, what’s not to like:
panels with your idols, aisle after aisle of sick
merch, IRL hangouts with your far-flung geek
buddies, and a chance to dress up like your
favorite character when it’s not even Hallow-
een. Don’t be the little lost n00b on the event
floor. Savvy up with some top tips from sea-
soned con-goers, and boldly go where many
geeks are waiting to say hi.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
HOW TO
PICK THE
RIGHT
CONVEN-
TION FOR
YOU
By Kristin Hackett
superspacechick.com
@superspacechick
There comes a time in the life of every fanboy
and fangirl when they want to further explore
a particular fandom and bond IRL with their
community. The best way to do so is by attend-
ing a convention, where fans can interact with
like-minded individuals about shared inter-
ests. Each convention has a distinct personal-
ity—even cons run by the same organizers can
differ drastically from location to location. So
it’s crucial to research the convention that’s
piquing your interest before spending your
hard-earned money.
Travel time, hotel accommodations, and finances are
major factors in planning a potential convention trip. And
although it’s likely easiest and most affordable to attend
the convention nearest (if not in) your hometown, it may be
worth saving up, traveling the extra miles, and spending
more at an event that better suits you and your fandom.
Most fans dream of attending San Diego Comic Con.
SDCC is the veritable Mecca for geeks from around the
world. But being the most renowned convention means it
is also the most crowded, the most attended by entertain-
ment industry folk, the most stressful to plan to visit, and
the one where you’ll most likely spend an entire day or night
camping out to see one panel. The quest to acquire your
tickets (now sold only as single-day badges) and hotel room
(you have to enter a lottery) is not unlike Frodo’s long jour-
ney to Mount Doom. And like Frodo’s trip, SDCC is infinitely
easier to tackle with the help of friends (especially securing
accommodations).
Despite all of these hurdles, SDCC is amazing and unlike
any other convention. Once you purchase your convention
exclusives on Preview Night, you’ll feel as accomplished as
the Avengers after ridding Earth of the Chitauri army (you
may even want to grab some shawarma with friends after-
ward to celebrate your victory). So if your heart is set on
catching a glimpse of Matt Smith in his bow tie or spending
an evening sleeping in shifts while waiting in line for a pan-
el on the next Batman movie, SDCC is the place for you. In
fact, plenty of fans travel to San Diego during SDCC sans
badges and still have a satisfying experience—the entire
city takes on the con atmosphere and you can get a killer
45
HOW TO PICK
THE RIGHT
CONVENTION
FOR YOU
CONT’D.
nerdy contact high.
On the other hand (and other coast), a convention like Baltimore Comic Con
is about as stress free as Thor picking up his Mjölnir. Baltimore Comic Con hap-
pens to be my favorite convention for many reasons. Unlike SDCC, where there is
a strong entertainment industry presence,, Baltimore is focused solely on com-
ics and comics fans. They have one of the best Artists’ Alleys (the area where
comic book authors and artists set up tables and sign autographs, take sketch
requests, and interact with con-goers) of any convention, and having to wait to
meet a creator is very rare. BCC attracts some of the best names in the comics
industry, since it hosts the Harvey Awards (for which attendees can purchase
tickets) on the Saturday evening of the convention. At BCC, seeing everything that
you set out see and purchasing way more than you intended to purchase are not
only possible but likely.
If cosplay and parties are your thing, you won’t want to miss DragonCon.
A cosplay parade down the main streets of Atlanta kicks off the convention,
whose unofficial motto is “What happens at DragonCon stays at DragonCon.”
Like SDCC, accommodations for DragonCon happen via hotel lottery, which is
held almost a year in advance, but unlike other conventions, the most popular
panels at DragonCon are offered in multiple time slots, so more attendees can
attend.
Calling all gamers! You have a plethora of conventions to choose from, the
most popular of which are PAX Prime, PAX East, BlizzCon, and E3. E3 is
known for video games and computing gaming; BlizzCon is run by Blizzard En-
tertainment, the creators of World of Warcraft, Diablo and many other games.
PAX Prime, PAX East, and PAX Australia showcase a mix of video games, table-
top gaming, and role-play games.
If the Force is strong with you, you’ll want to direct your Millennium Falcons,
X-wings, TIE Fighters, tauntauns, etc., to Star Wars Celebration. This con-
vention changes locations each year, which allows fans from around the world
to attend. Another convention that city-hops across the U.S. is literary fandom
convention LeakyCon, which started as a Harry Potter convention but has add-
ed many more YA fiction authors and fandom-specific events to their program-
ming. Gallifrey One and LI Who are two cons that all TARDIS-piloting Whovians
should navigate toward. Trekkies would steer the USS Enterprise to Star Trek
Vegas. The inaugural Sherlocked, devoted to all things Sherlock Holmes, has
been announced for 2014 (it’s beginning in the U.K. with plans to move to Europe
and the USA in the next few years), and Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo is a great
place to bring your children.
One final thing to consider: when choosing to travel to a convention, you may
want to pick a location that you’ve always been interested in visiting and then
plan a few extra days to check out some tourist attractions. Once you have a
few conventions under your belt, it’s likely that you’ll have made friends who live
nowhere near you . . . this comes in handy when planning for future conventions!
46
KRISTIN HACKETT is part superhero and part fashionista. She is an
avid blogger for On Wednesdays We Wear Pink, which she cocreated
with Kristin Fowler. She muses about comics and conventions at Super-
SpaceChick.com and on Twitter @SuperSpaceChick.
HOW TO PICK
THE RIGHT
CONVENTION
FOR YOU
CONT’D.
A GUIDE
TO CON
LINGO
By Chris Cummins
@bionicbigfoots
As Pulp reminds us in their Britpop classic
“Common People,” everybody hates a tour-
ist. If you’ve never had the pleasure of attend-
ing a fandom convention before, take a minute
to familiarize yourself with the following terms,
which you’re likely to hear coming from the
mouths of fanboys and fangirls during the con. In
the absence of a real-life BabelFish or universal
translator, this list is your definitive guide to con-
vention-speak.
AI: Artificial intelligence/A lackluster Spielberg film.
Anorak: British slang word for nerd.
Artist’s alley: A must-see part of every convention. This
is where independent comics creators hawk their (often
terrific) wares. You want to see tomorrow’s biggest talents
today? This is where you want to be.
Back issue: An older comic book no longer available on
the primary market.
Bazinga!: A catchphrase used on The Big Bang Theory, a TV
show no self-respecting nerd would actually watch. Do not
say this.
Cosplay: The act of dressing up like a favorite pop culture
character, usually from a sci-fi or fantasy property.
Fansub: Version of a foreign-language film or TV series
with fan-added subtitles. Most popular in anime circles,
fansubs allow audiences to enjoy foreign works that would
otherwise be incomprehensible in their original form.
Frak: A generic curse word used constantly by characters
on the TV series Battlestar Galactica.
Gamer: A hard-core video game enthusiast.
Glomping: Though it may sound like an extraordinarily cool
dance move, it is in fact a form of violent hug attack given by
one fan to another, originally used in the anime fandom and
typically given to cosplayers. It is often ferocious, but who
doesn’t love a hug (even one that is crushingly affection-
ate)? When in doubt, ask first and then glomp.
Hentai: Explicit anime pornography. Not for kids!
48
A GUIDE TO
CON LINGO
CONT’D.
LARP: Acronym for live-action role playing. May involve in-character social in-
teractions as well as fighting with swords (made of foam or something else safe)
and armor.
MMORPG: Acronym for massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Exam-
ples include World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Guild Wars, etc.
Muggle: A term for a person lacking magical abilities, from the Harry Potter
series. Usually has a negative connotation.
NYCC: New York Comic Con. This October event is perhaps best described as the
foul-mouthed, East Coast little brother of San Diego’s con.
Otaku: A catchall Japanese term for anybody who is obsessive about a certain
thing, usually anime. A geek, in other words.
Retcon: Abbreviation of retroactive continuity, aka to suddenly change a charac-
ter’s history or the premise of a story and proceed as if that it has always been
that way. Comics are notorious for retconning, much to the dismay of readers
who have had enough of this sort of creative nonsense already.
RPG: Acronym for role-playing game. Can refer to either a tabletop game (think
Dungeons and Dragons) or a video game (think Final Fantasy).
SDCC: San Diego Comic Con. This grandpappy of all fandom events is held annu-
ally in July. Although it was once the domain of comic book creators and lovers,
SDCC is now a huge mainstream moneymaker highlighted by appearances from
A-list celebrities and the debut of footage from upcoming blockbuster films.
Ship: A romantic relationship between two characters, or the act of supporting
said pairing (as in “I ship Lando and Leia”).
Smeg: A generic curse word used constantly by characters on the British TV
show Red Dwarf.
Snikt: The sound Wolverine makes when he unleashes his claws.
Squee: A vaguely onomatopoetic verb meaning “to enthuse,” often over a ro-
mantic pairing of two characters. “I hear Han and Leia are getting together in the
next sequel. Squeeeeeeee!”
Trekkie/Trekker: A Star Trek enthusiast.
Thwip: The sound Spider-Man makes when he shoots his webbing.
Whovian: A Doctor Who enthusiast.
CHRIS CUMMINS has contributed to Geekadelphia, Den of Geek, Topless
Robot, Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, and USA Today’s Pop
Candy blog. He is also the webmaster at Hibernation Sickness. Follow
him on Twitter @bionicbigfoot.
HOW TO
MAKE THE
MOST OF
YOUR CON-
VENTION
EXPERI-
ENCE
By Kristin Hackett
superspacechick.com
@superspacechick
You’ve done it! You’ve picked the convention
that best suits your interests; your vacation
days have been approved by your employer;
you’ve endured hours of travel time, checked
into your hotel room, and picked up your badge.
With the show floor mere feet away, you’re so
excited to begin your experience that you’re
vibrating uncontrollably and thinking you may
explode into glitter at any moment. You want to
do everything. EVERYTHING.
Which is why you’ll need a plan to conquer this con-
vention. Did Leia, Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and their faithful
droids barge into Vader’s Death Star to defeat the Empire
without a plan of attack? No! And if we’ve learned anything
from them, it’s that it is better to have planned and sponta-
neously modify those plans than never to have planned at
all.
Look over the guest list before setting foot in the
convention space so you can prioritize your time. Some
guests are in attendance only for a few days, or they offer
autographs or photos only during a specific time frame. Re-
member to factor in a substantial wait time for guests who
are in very high demand. If Tom Hiddleston will be taking
photos with fans from 1 pm to 3 pm, chances are you’ll need
to start queuing up at 10 am.
Check out the programming schedule, too, for the
panels you can’t miss. At larger conventions where over-
night lines form (here’s looking at you, Hall H), you could
potentially spend a lot of time missing out on what’s hap-
pening on the show floor simply waiting in line for another
attraction. On the plus side, though, at these larger conven-
tions panels are often filmed and the videos are uploaded to
YouTube minutes after the event has ended; often there will
be additional coverage online, on Twitter and in more in-
depth articles later that evening. Taking advantage of these
alternatives will free you up for other things during the day.
Set a budget. The simplest way to free up funds to
spend on art, collectibles, autographs, etc., is to avoid
spending an exorbitant amount on overpriced convention
food. Pick up some snacks from a nearby convenience store
(take it from Thor: your mortal form will grow weak and
you will require sustenance). Once you step onto the show
50
HOW TO MAKE
THE MOST
OF YOUR
CONVENTION
EXPERIENCE
CONT’D.
floor, take a lap around the entire space and scout everything the vendors and
artists have to offer before committing to any purchases. Multiple booths may be
offering the same merchandise at different prices, so you’ll want to know that
you’re getting the best deal. If you suffer short-term memory loss induced by all
the shiny things in your field of vision, take a quick photo or write a short note on
your smartphone so you can backtrack. Exception: If you have your heart set on
a convention exclusive, head to that booth first, because exclusives are usually
limited and tend to sell out quicker than you can say “Expelliarmus!”
Budget your time if you’re planning on cosplaying, because you’ll be
stopped over and over again by people asking for photos. While being stopped
for photography is very flattering, it gets in the way of your schedule. Divide your
time at the convention into cosplay time and time for you to get your con on. If
you’ll only be there for one day but you’re dying to cosplay, bring a change of
clothes and only cosplay for a few hours.
The day doesn’t end when the show closes. Companies, websites, and
cosplayers often host offsite after-con parties and social events, which are a
great way to make new friends or meet creators. Check social media to see
what’s on; sometimes there’s a cover charge, other times a simple RSVP is all
that’s necessary. The only major “but” is that once the convention hours are over,
a creator is no longer working. Unless an invitation specifies otherwise, don’t
bring a black Sharpie and 200 comics for your favorite writer to sign while she’s
trying to enjoy some downtime.
Pack your camera battery charger (because if you end up waiting in line
for the bathroom behind Robert Kirkman all of your friends are bound to exclaim
“photos or it didn’t happen!”) and phone charger (when you will inevitably need
a few moments of down time, you’ll want to meet up with friends and form your
sitting hangout circle next to an open outlet).
And have fun! Things don’t always go according to plan, but if you go with
the flow, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time.
KRISTIN HACKETT muses about comics and conventions at Super-
SpaceChick.com and on Twitter @SuperSpaceChick.
HOW TO
CREATE
(CHEAP)
DIY
STEAM-
PUNK
COSPLAY
GOGGLES
By Susan Dennard
susandennard.com
@stdennard
There’s a reason the steampunk genre has
exploded in popularity over the past few years:
it’s freaking cool to look at. All those whir-
ring gears and gleaming copper doodads will
catch the eye of even the most anti-cosplaying
curmudgeon. Of course, those gears and cop-
per bits can make such costumes a bit pricier
than other cosplay getups. But with a dollop of
elbow grease, a dash of creativity, and copious
amounts of spray paint, a steampunk costume
can be yours without breaking the bank.
The key to a shoestring costume lies in the accessories.
Pretty much any outfit, even something as simple as jeans
and a button-up shirt, can be transformed with the proper
goggles, utility belt, or steampunk gun. Of all the possible
brassy accoutrements out there, a pair of goggles is the in-
dispensable item. Whether those goggles are meant to see
ghosts (as in my novel from HarperTeen, Something Strange
and Deadly) or are for purely aesthetic purposes (as in my
own steampunk costume), nothing says steampunk awe-
somness quite like goggles. Best of all, these goggles can
be yours for as little as twenty bucks!
TOOLS
• Welding goggles (find them at building supply stores or
online)
• Embellishments of your choice, such as machine parts,
lenses, jewelry, etc.
• Leather belt (width equal to that of goggle strap)
• Metallic spray paint, any color or a combination
• Tape
• Superglue
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Take apart the welding goggles: remove the rubber mask
part from the plastic lens frame. Cover the lenses with
tape, and remove the strap. If your goggles can’t be taken
Courtesy Amanda Plavich Photography
52
HOW TO
CREATE
(CHEAP) DIY
STEAMPUNK
COSPLAY
GOGGLES
CONT’D.
apart, simply cover the lenses with tape and remove the strap.
2. It’s time to spray paint! Follow the instructions on the can and apply only a light
coating of paint to the goggles, just enough to cover them all over. (Too much
spray paint will turn them into a sticky mess. I learned this the hard way.) Also
spray paint your embellishments, if necessary. Let dry; a light coating should dry
within a few hours.
3. While the goggles and embellishments dry, measure the distance from one
end of the goggles around your skull to the other end of the goggles. Buckle the
belt and mark the length of your strap measurement on it, with the buckle in the
center.
4. When the paint on the goggles is dry, carefully peel the tape off the lenses. Do
not attempt peeling too soon! Wait until the paint is no longer sticky, or else you’ll
leave fingerprints on the surface. If you took apart the goggles in step 1, put them
back together now.
5. Use the superglue to adhere your various embellishments to the goggles. I
personally decided to go simple for my pair, so I only added a single scorpion
and the double lenses. Again I suggest scouring the Internet for inspiration on
placement and design.
6. Slide the ends of the leather belt into the goggle’s strap holders and voilà! You
are now the proud owner of a pair of steampunk goggles.
SUSAN DENNARD is a reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of
cookies. She used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels.
Her Something Strange and Deadly series is available from HarperTeen.
Learn more at SusanDennard.com.
HOW TO
MEET
A CON
CELEBRITY
By Melissa Kay
dancewithzombies.net
@mechamelissa
So, you’re ready to attend your favorite con-
vention. You’ve got your comfortable shoes
packed, your panel schedule planned out,
and your cosplays in order. But wait—did you
just read that Tom Hiddleston/Karen Gillian
is going to be there?! You must meet him/her.
What do you do now? Let me help you. I’m your
only hope. Whether it’s an actor, comic book
writer, artist, or even a cosplayer, meeting a
convention celebrity takes a lot of know-how
and proper planning. After all, you can’t sim-
ply saunter up to William Shatner and start
snapping selfies, right? Right. Let’s go over a
few steps (and secrets!) to help you score that
desired autograph or prized photo.
First, research all the details surrounding the celeb’s
signing or appearance. Is the signing held only on Satur-
day afternoon? What time? Can you pay for a photo op be-
forehand? Don’t be the clueless guy who wanders up to the
queue and asks, “Is this the line for so-and-so?”
Next comes the waiting. You’ll want to show up to the
waiting area at least a few hours prior to the scheduled
start time. (If it’s, say, Grant Morrison, please show up the
night before.) You should never underestimate a celebrity’s
popularity just because you think many people don’t know
them. They probably do . . . and they want your place in line.
To help pass the time, bring some snacks, water, and a
form of entertainment. If you’re social, this is a good time to
bond with your line-standing comrades.
Sometimes celebrity meetings can be secured by buy-
ing an autograph or photo op package before the conven-
tion starts. If you can afford it, I highly recommend seizing
that opportunity—and fast, as they tend to sell out quickly.
These cost a hefty penny. But that’s nothing compared to
your (totally benign and within reason) love for this person,
right?
If waiting in line or buying a photo op don’t pan out for
you, you’ll have to resort to some sneaky methods to try to
meet you idol. Here are a couple of ways that you could “run
into” that beloved celeb: stand nearby while the signing
finishes, and slowly but sneakily follow your fave. Oh, you
54
HOW TO
MEET A CON
CELEBRITY
CONT’D.
just happen to be on the same elevator as Matt Smith? Lucky you! Wink. Another
approach is to befriend someone in the celebrity’s movie/comic book/whatever
media company. Someone with connections. Someone who will let you meet them.
This is hard, but it can be done with the right amount of charm. You’ll need a level
16 Charisma at least. (And if you feel at all weird about doing any of this . . . then
don’t do it.)
If you’re trying to meet a celeb at San Diego Comic Con, aka the mother of all
cons, you’ll need stamina, guts, and unyielding dedication. You will most likely
spend an entire day waiting for your event (some events even require an over-
night wait)—and note that getting an autograph here require waiting for “tickets”
even before waiting in a line to meet the celebrities. But on the plus side: some
lesser-known celebrities will be easier to meet here since everyone’s focused
on the bigger names—you just need to catch them at their booth at a nonsigning
time.
Finally, however it happens, once you are mere steps from meeting this ce-
lebrity, remember to act appropriately. Use manners, don’t linger, and have what
you want signed at the ready. This will make the experience pleasant for every-
one involved—including your fellow convention goers. And yes, it’s totally okay
to gush—just don’t get carried away and expect a full-on discussion on why they
chose to leave the show, etc.
Good luck!
MELISSA KAY is an anti-heroine in disguise using her secret powers to
wield science and art into medical illustration. By night she paints toys,
writes stories, and occasionally fends off her foes with kung fu. Find out
more at DanceWithZombies.net and on Twitter @mechamelissa.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
PART 4 GEEK LOVE
“As you wish.”
—Wesley, The Princess Bride
Ah, love: when you find your compatible geek,
pterodactyls flit around your stomach and two
hearts beat as one (in two non–Time Lord bod-
ies, that is). Far from being socially inept (what
is this, Weird Science?), geeks are actually
perfectly suited to the dating realm. Passion,
empathy, attention to detail, and excellent DVD
collections all work in your favor to create a
fun and squee-worthy interpersonal experi-
ence. Let these tips boost your natural abili-
ties, and then—yes—love long and prosper.
HOW TO
HACK
YOUR
ONLINE
DATING
PROFILE
From The Geek’s Guide to
Dating by Eric Smith
Writing a profile for a dating website isn’t quite
like building your avatar in World of Warcraft
or writing a clever Twitter bio. For one thing,
the payoff is much more satisfying. Like any
system designed for efficiency, online dating is
totally hackable.
Step 1: Hack your user name. Your online moniker (along
with your profile picture; more about that in Step 2) is the
first glimpse of you that other site users get—which means
it’s your first chance to catch someone’s attention. Remem-
ber how much time you put into coming up with your Xbox
Live user name or your Twitter handle? You should put just
as much thought into this alias. Do you really want to be
another LongDong69 or CuteBoi32? Of course not. You’re
a geek, and as a geek, you’re creative. Give yourself a us-
ername that says a little something about you and your
personality: maybe it’s a character in a comic (Gambit42),
the title of a book you enjoy (RdyPlyerOne), or a play on a
(nonembarrassing) nickname of yours.
TIP: Think carefully before picking a name that can connect you to your IRL
self. Avoid using your Twitter handle, your Facebook user name, or your real
name: you don’t want your dating profile popping up when a potential em-
ployer googles you. By the same token, you don’t want your whole personal
life showing up when a potential date googles you. So stay off the radar, and
keep your identity a secret, instead of shouting it out to the world.
Step 2: Hack your photo. First of all, choose pictures
that are of you, without anyone else in the shot, so you’ll be
clearly visible in the thumbnail. Secondly, if the site sup-
ports it, post a handful of images—you don’t want to imply
there is only one good photo of you in existence. Finally, be
sure to choose recent photos. Surprising your date with the
fact that you lost all your hair . . . well, that’s not good. You
should never start a relationship with a lie.
The best practice is to take a couple of fresh pictures
especially for your dating profile. Surveys of OkCupid user
data show that successful pictures (i.e., the ones that at-
tract the most messages) have a few things in common that
are easy to put into practice:
Better camera, better picture. Users whose photos
were taken with a DSLR camera were more successful
than those with point-and-shoot pictures, who were in
turn more successful than those with camera phone
57
HOW TO HACK
YOUR ONLINE
DATING
PROFILE
CONT’D.
snaps. Borrow a great camera if possible (and if you are stuck with a phone
cam, try to use an iPhone—surveys show iPhone users have more sex).
Flash no, natural light yes. Popping that flash can add almost seven
years to the appearance of your face. Turn off your flash and stand outside
or by a window (late afternoon is best).
Be shallow. In your depth of field, anyway. Use a low f-stop on your camera
when possible, or in layman’s terms: keep your face in focus, with the rest
receding to a soft blur. Or use the “portrait” setting if your camera has one.
Don’t look at the camera . . . or even smile. It sounds counterintuitive,
but guys whose pictures show them staring resolutely offstage make con-
tact with nearly twice the women per attempt than the deer-in-headlights
grinners. But try to go for mysterious and thoughtful, not creepy and crabby.
YES NO
You, dressed well and looking nice You at a party chugging down cans
of beer or tumblers of whiskey like
you’re Wolverine or Tony Stark
You sitting outside at a restaurant,
glass of wine in hand
You at home, shirtless in the bath-
room mirror, in your boxers, etc.
You at home, sitting on the couch,
cooking in your kitchen, posing
with a pet, etc.
You sitting outside at a restaurant,
mouth full of meat, bones scat-
tered across the table, spoils of
war everywhere, none spared. If
you look like a zombie extra from
Shaun of the Dead, it’s probably a
bad choice of picture. (Unless you
actually were a zombie extra—that
could be cool. Just make sure you
explain that clearly in the caption.)
Step 3: Hack your “About Me.” You’ve got to be honest. Boasting about being
the world’s strongest millionaire might work for Bender in Futurama, but if you’re
trying to find something long term and lasting, it’s best not to lie. Here are some
cheat codes for getting the truth across painlessly.
Standard playthrough: “I’m looking for a Droid to man my battlestation/a
Penny to my Dr. Horrible/a Princess Peach to my Mario.”
Cheat code: “I’m a laid-back guy looking for an awesome girl to share ad-
58
ventures with.”
The battlestation was blown up. Dr. Horrible accidentally kills Penny. And Peach
is constantly running around other people’s castles. That is to say: avoid clichés
and avoid hiding behind fictional characters. Be original and genuine . . . unless
you truly do love piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. In that case, good
luck with the pneumonia and alcoholism.
Standard playthrough: “Well, the first thing to know about me is that I
was born in California, but then spent my whole life in Seattle, which means
that I’ve been to Emerald City Comicon three times: once in 2008, once in
2009, then not again until 2011, and then I thought about going in 2012 but
I ended up deciding to try for PAX tickets until they sold out, so I ended up
having to throw together a costume at the last minute . . .”
Cheat code: “I’m from Seattle, which means I’ve got my pick of awesome
cons to attend.”
It’s not easy to condense your life story into a few sentences, but fight the urge to
pen a Lord of the Rings–length epic about yourself. Most dating websites give you
room to rant and ramble, but in the age of Web 2.0 and mobile browsing, lots of
potential dates are checking out your profile on their smartphones. Provide just
enough intriguing details to give them a good idea of who you are. You can cover
the rest in person on that first date.
Standard playthrough: “I’ve had zero luck dating in meatspace and I’m
trying this as a last resort, but I bet girls online are just as harsh and stuck-
up as IRL.”
Cheat code: “I’m an online dating n00b. Who wants to show me how awe-
some it is?”
Yes, relationships are tricky, and when things don’t work out, you may be left
jaded and cynical. But if that’s your opening line, why would anyone want to hear
more? Don’t be like Rorschach in Watchmen, writing down all his sad, painful
thoughts. Keep the negativity off your profile.
Standard playthrough: “I’m pretty into movies, music, video games, etc.”
Cheat code: “I love Lord of the Rings and have watched the extended edi-
tions of the movies back to back. Twice.”
This is probably the most important tip regarding the content in your dating pro-
file: don’t hide your true self. If you’re afraid to admit that your ideal weekend
consists of playing Dungeons and Dragons or that you obsess daily over the pos-
sibility of a zombie/robot apocalypse, don’t sweat it. If it sends someone running,
chances are she wouldn’t have been right for you anyway. Let your geek flag fly,
because someone will salute it.
Standard playthrough: “Not looking for anyone younger than 21, older
HOW TO HACK
YOUR ONLINE
DATING
PROFILE
CONT’D.
59
than 25, taller than me, or unable to speak Klingon. No redheads, no ‘dra-
ma,’ no fat chicks.”
Cheat code: “Are you funny, smart, and willing to laugh at my jokes? I’m
sold.”
There’s a difference between knowing what you want and providing a horribly
long list of what you don’t want. Pre-jecting people with an itemized list of un-
wanted flaws means you might miss out on someone truly awesome because
of one small quirk, and you’ll definitely make yourself look like a person with
impossibly high standards— aka a tool.
Standard playthrough: “im just tryna find the right girl 4 me atm”
Cheat code: Spellcheck. Every time. You may think typos and grammar
gaffes make you seem more casual and relaxed. Or maybe you just suck
at spelling. But dating sites have found that illiterate profiles get lower re-
sponse rates. Spellcheck obsessively, and ask someone you trust to proof-
read your profile.
TIP: If you have a friend who uses the website you’re signing up for, ask her or him to take a look at
your profile and offer feedback. And if you find yourself looking at other people’s profiles for inspiration,
stop. You want to stand out. Make your profile as unique and interesting as you are.
HOW TO HACK
YOUR ONLINE
DATING
PROFILE
CONT’D.
THE BEST
GEEK
MARRIAGE
PROPOS-
ALS (AND
WEDDING
TIPS!)
By E. C. Myers
ecmyers.net
@ecmyers
If you’re lucky enough to be dating a geek,
sooner or later your thoughts may turn to pro-
posing marriage because, hello, that one’s
a keeper. Unfortunately, the Internet has all
but ruined marriage proposals: with all those
stories and videos out there about epic geeky
proposals, it seems everyone is out to top the
last one and make their proposal go viral.
Wanting to make a grandiose gesture that not
only proves your love but announces it to the
world—and all your potential competitors—is
natural. But remember that, unless you work
in Hollywood, getting married isn’t a promo-
tional stunt. For a successful, romantic pro-
posal that’s still geeky,keep in mind:
1. Your proposal should be the kind of proposal your part-
ner would actually want.
2. Your proposal should celebrate something geeky that is
meaningful to both of you.
By now, if you’re thinking of spending the rest of your natu-
ral life with this other person and combining bank accounts
and book shelves and your collections of stuff, chances are
you know your partner pretty well. Does she like attention,
or would she be mortified by a public proposal? She might
be a geek, but maybe she really wants a traditional pro-
posal. Would he be upset if that life-changing moment took
place at a comic book convention—in costumes? How does
he feel about hidden cameras and becoming a YouTube sen-
sation? Are you confident the answer you’re going to get is
a yes?
Once you decide on a private versus public proposal,
you have to figure out how you’re going to pull this off. Some
orchestrated proposals have all the moving parts of a suc-
cessful bank heist, but others are less complicated. Think
about the things that are special to you as a couple, which
might hold special meaning for your relationship. Did you
first bond over a certain comic book? Did you meet at a con-
vention? Do you like to play the same video games together
or like watching a particular show together? The answer
61
THE BEST
GEEK
MARRIAGE
PROPOSALS
(AND WED-
DING TIPS!)
CONT’D.
will point you in the right direction.
Now consider your strengths and the resources available to you, of which
money may only be a small component (Not everyone can code a video game
from scratch and convince Ellen McLain to reprise the role of GLaDOS.) You
might reach out to your friends and connected geeks for help, but remember to
make the moment personal. The hope is that your partner will say yes no matter
how you pop the question—everything else is just details. You aren’t going to turn
a “hell no” into a “yes” just because you got Sir Patrick Stewart to ask for you.
(Okay, bad example—that probably would seal the deal.)
Planning the where, when, and how of your proposal is your chance to create
a memorable experience: a story the two of you will tell for the rest of your lives
together—or at least blog about on Tumblr. It should be special, since it’s going
to become part of the narrative of your relationship . . . and, yeah, because maybe
you’re trying to show off a little bit and impress friends and strangers. Nothing
wrong with that.
You could also opt to let the ring do the work for you. A geeky ring could be a
perfect symbol of your commitment, but only if she adores it as much as you do.
If your significant other has dropped hints about the kind of ring she has always
wanted, freaking pay attention. Taste in jewelry is very personal, and, remember,
she’s going to wear that thing possibly (well, hopefully) forever. Better yet, con-
sider letting her design or pick out the ring she wants (you don’t need a ring to
propose!).
When you’re getting ready to propose, you’re going to be nervous—not nec-
essarily because you don’t know what the answer will be, but because you’re
worried something will go wrong with your intricate plan. Have a backup plan
in case things don’t go the way you hoped—and if they don’t, you can either ask
anyway or wait for the stars to align differently.
Congratulations! Now you have a wedding to plan. You might be tempted to
throw the geekiest wedding in the world, because all your friends are very geeky
and all your family is very . . . understanding. But there’s a chance you will be
pressured to have a traditional wedding, especially if someone else is paying for
it. Or you both may decide that you’d rather be a bit more subtle. “Stealth geek”
is very in, and you can add touches of your geekdom to everything from the table
decorations and cake toppers to the musical selections, the program, and even
your vows. You know what else is in? Compromise.
Make sure the wedding, like your proposal—indeed, like everything from
here on out, from the decorations in your home to the decals on the family car—
reflects both your personalities. This is a celebration of you, not how much you
love Star Wars. Besides, the Imperial Wedding March? It’s been done. (But, okay,
it’s always awesome.)
One last thing: Don’t forget your engagement photos! With the right photog-
rapher and a little creativity, your photos are a prime opportunity to go wild with
your geekiness, whether you’re staging a zombie apocalypse, being chased by
dinosaurs, or dressing up as superheroes.
62
E. C. MYERS proposed to his geeky wife by hacking a Gilmore Girls DVD.
His first novel, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young
Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book. You can find traces of him at ec-
myers.net and on Twitter @ecmyers.
THE BEST
GEEK
MARRIAGE
PROPOSALS
(AND WED-
DING TIPS!)
CONT’D.
HOW TO
CHOOSE
A NAME
FOR YOUR
GEEK OFF-
SPRING
From Sci-Fi Baby Names:
500 Out-of-This-World Baby
Names from Anakin to Zardoz
by Robert Schnakenberg
When you get right down to it, is naming your
child after a character from Zardoz really any
weirder than naming him after some goatherd
who made a cameo appearance in the book of
Leviticus two thousand years ago? (Which inci-
dentally is where Robert comes from.) What
are you going to call your little bundle of joy?
Here are some options to consider.
64
T
R
A
D
I
T
I
O
N
A
L

N
A
M
E
S
M
A
S
C
U
L
I
N
E
N
A
M
E
S
F
E
M
I
N
I
N
E
N
A
M
E
S
P
O
W
E
R
N
A
M
E
S
I
N
T
E
L
L
E
C
T
U
A
L
N
A
M
E
S
E
X
O
T
I
C

N
A
M
E
S
A
d
a
m

(
M
i
t
c
h
e
l
l
,

s
e
c
o
n
d

D
o
c
t
o
r

W
h
o

c
o
m
p
a
n
i
o
n
)
B
u
c
k

(
B
u
c
k

R
o
g
e
r
s

i
n

t
h
e

2
5
t
h

C
e
n
t
u
r
y
)
K
a
y
l
e
e

(
F
r
y
e
,

F
i
r
e
f
l
y
)
C
a
e
s
a
r

(
C
o
n
q
u
e
s
t

o
f

t
h
e

P
l
a
n
e
t

o
f

t
h
e

A
p
e
s
)
G
a
z
o
o

(
t
h
e

G
r
e
a
t
,

T
h
e

F
l
i
n
t
s
t
o
n
e
s
)
B
a
r
b
a
r
e
l
l
a

(
B
a
r
b
a
r
e
l
-
l
a
)
E
l
l
e
n

(
R
i
p
l
e
y

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

A
l
i
e
n

f
r
a
n
c
h
i
s
e
)
F
r
e
e
m
a
n

(
L
o
w
e
l
l
,

S
i
l
e
n
t

R
u
n
n
i
n
g
)
N
o
v
a

(
P
l
a
n
e
t

o
f

t
h
e

A
p
e
s
)
G
o
r
t

(
T
h
e

D
a
y

t
h
e

E
a
r
t
h

S
t
o
o
d

S
t
i
l
l
)
S
u
r
a
k

(
S
t
a
r

T
r
e
k

f
r
a
n
c
h
i
s
e
)
M

R
e
s
s

(
S
t
a
r

T
r
e
k
:

T
h
e

A
n
i
m
a
t
e
d

S
e
r
i
e
s
)
R
i
c
k

(
D
e
c
k
a
r
d
,

B
l
a
d
e

R
u
n
n
e
r
)
H
i
k
a
r
u

(
S
u
l
u
,

S
t
a
r

T
r
e
k

f
r
a
n
c
h
i
s
e
)
O
r
o
r
o

(
M
u
n
r
o
e
,

a
k
a

S
t
o
r
m
,

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

X
-
m
e
n

f
r
a
n
c
h
i
s
e
)
H
u
m
u
n
g
u
s

(
T
h
e

R
o
a
d

W
a
r
r
i
r
o
r
)
R
e
e
d

(
R
i
c
h
a
r
d
s
,

T
h
e

F
a
n
t
a
s
t
i
c

F
o
u
r
)
Y
o
r
i

(
T
r
o
n
)
S
a
r
a
h

(
C
o
n
n
o
r
,

t
h
e

T
e
r
m
i
n
a
t
o
r

s
e
r
i
e
s
)
K
i
l
g
o
r
e

(
T
r
o
u
t
,

S
l
a
u
g
h
t
e
r
h
o
u
s
e

F
i
v
e
)
T

P
r
i
n
g

(
S
t
a
r

T
r
e
k
)
S
e
l
a

(
S
t
a
r

T
r
e
k
:

T
h
e

N
e
x
t

G
e
n
e
r
a
t
i
o
n
)
Z
i
r
a

(
P
l
a
n
e
t

o
f

t
h
e

A
p
e
s
)
J
o
r
-
e
l

(
S
u
p
e
r
m
a
n

f
r
a
n
c
h
i
s
e
)
H
e
n
r
y

(

H
a
n
k


M
c
C
o
y
,

o
n
e

o
f

t
h
e

o
r
i
g
i
n
a
l

X
-
m
e
n
)
L
a
n
d
o

(
C
a
l
r
i
s
s
i
a
n
,

S
t
a
r

W
a
r
s

e
p
i
s
o
d
e
s

V

V
I
)
A
e
r
y
n

(
S
u
n
,

F
a
r
-
s
c
a
p
e
)
Y
l
l
a
n
a

(
Q
u
e
e
n

o
f

O
u
t
-
e
r

S
p
a
c
e
)
H
e
l
e
n
a

(
R
u
s
s
e
l
,

S
p
a
c
e
:

1
9
9
9
)
Q
u
i
-
G
o
n

(
S
t
a
r

W
a
r
s
:

T
h
e

P
h
a
n
t
o
m

M
e
n
a
c
e
)
J
a
n
e

(
J
e
t
s
o
n
,

T
h
e

J
e
t
s
o
n
s
)
S
n
a
k
e

(
P
l
i
s
s
k
e
n
,

E
s
-
c
a
p
e

f
r
o
m

N
e
w

Y
o
r
k
)
T
a
l
i
a

(
W
i
n
t
e
r
s
,

B
a
b
y
-
l
o
n

5
)
A
e
o
n

(
A
e
o
n

F
l
u
x
)
H
e
y
w
o
o
d

(
F
l
o
y
d
,

2
0
0
1
:

A

S
p
a
c
e

O
d
d
y
s
-
s
e
y
)
Z
a
p
h
o
d

(
B
e
e
b
l
e
b
r
o
x
,

T
h
e

H
i
t
c
h
h
i
k
e
r

s

G
u
i
d
e

t
o

t
h
e

G
a
l
a
x
y
)
HOW TO
CHOOSE A
NAME FOR
YOUR GEEK
OFFSPRING
CONT’D.
HOW TO
SHARE
YOUR
GEEKY
PASSIONS
WITH
YOUR KIDS
By Glen Tickle
geekosystem.com
@glentickle
If you have had or are expecting a baby, there’s
probably a lot on your mind. Will I be a good
parent? Will my baby be healthy? These are
both great questions, but of course the most
important question of all is this: Will my child
be a geek?
Great news! Baby brains are made of Silly Putty that can
be pressed down onto the Sunday funnies of your choosing.
Your little miracle’s head is full of wet cement just waiting
for you to write on with a stick. In other words, it’s easy to
steer them in the right direction.
Begin early. As in before birth. Some people recommend
playing Mozart for babies in the womb, but the theme from
Legend of Zelda is a much geekier option.
Reading to your baby in the womb is another great ap-
proach, and there are proven benefits to reading to your
children. But forget Pat the Bunny—read your kid Tolkein’s
The Silmarillion before he’s incapable of crawling away. He’ll
thank you later.
TIP: If you really want to start your kid off right, have the opening fanfare
from Star Wars cued up to play just as your baby leaves the birth canal. If
you’re doing a home birth you could have the person catching the baby dress
as Chewbacca, but know that most hospitals probably have policies against
this.
Choose a geeky name. A geeky name will serve as a con-
stant reminder throughout your child’s life of her origin
story, but use something that can pass as a normal name
to nongeeks and avoid anything too obscure, trendy, or top-
ical. Your daughter will someday thank you for naming her
Zelda, but your son Helix Fossil will stop speaking to you
once he’s old enough to realize what you’ve done.
TIP: See the excerpt from Sci-Fi Baby Names on p. 64 for suggestions.
Cancel your cable. This seems like a drastic step, but as
a new parent you won’t have time for TV anyway. Services
like Netflix and Hulu let you better control what your child
watches, so you can all but assure they’ll never see The
Wiggles. Instead, expose your baby to something you enjoy,
because when kids latch on to something they do so in a big
way. Thankfully, most of the stuff you loved as a kid is prob-
ably available somewhere on the Internet.
TIP: Children can learn how to use a remote control at a frighteningly early
66
HOW TO
SHARE
YOUR GEEKY
PASSIONS
WITH YOUR
KIDS CONT’D.
age. Swap out your original remote for one of the gesture-based models from the Wand Company, and
don’t teach them how to use it. It will keep them from scrolling through menus, plus they’ll think you’re
a wizard for at least the first few years of their lives.
Expose your kid to other geeks. You are your kid’s hero. He wants to be like
you. If he sees you read comics, he’ll want to read comics. If you take him some-
where a lot of people are reading comics, he’ll realize that reading comics is
something cool that a lot of people enjoy.
Make sure you spend some time showing your little geekling that it’s okay to
go out into the world too. Take him to events like conventions early on. He may
not have the stamina to stay out on the floor all day to help you find that mint
copy of Howard the Duck #16 or the attention span to sit through that Firefly panel
you’re dying to see, but parenting is an exercise in sacrifice. If you make these
events something your child enjoys going to early on, he’ll look forward to going
back with you and it will become something special you can do together.
TIP: Parent/Child cosplay options: Ash and Pikachu, Batman and Robin, Sarah and Toby from Laby-
rinth (or Jareth if you can pull off Bowie’s outfits), Jabba and Salacious Crumb, a Ghostbuster and a
much smaller Ghostbuster.
Accept that she won’t like everything. Focus on giving your child the capacity
for geekdom rather than on any one specific interest. Your baby may never love
Star Trek, so teach her that it’s okay not to. Being a geek shouldn’t be about loving
the right things. It’s about how you love the things you love. Be an example. Love
the things you love, but don’t deride the things you don’t.
TIP: You’ll also have to accept that at some point you will develop weird dad hobbies or mom interests.
These may still fall under the realm of geekdom, but your child doesn’t really want to help you build your
midlife crisis land speeder. She’s just humoring you.
Throughout this process, remember your goal: to give your child the ability to love
something intensely, and proudly, without fear of not fitting in or being judged. He
won’t take to everything you show him—just think of all the weird stuff your own
parents are into. Expose them a wide range of things on the geek spectrum, and
teach them to embrace the things they enjoy to the fullest.
And if you follow these guides and your kid doesn’t turn out to be a geek, that’s
okay too. At least you spent time reading together and teaching your child about
all the things you love.
GLEN TICKLE is a writer, comedian, father, gentleman, Dr. Mario vir-
tuoso, husband, and the senior editor of Geekosystem.com. He lives in
New Jersey with his wife, daughter, and a dog named Elvis Costello. His
daughter’s first word was “book.”
GEEK
DATING
TIPS
FROM
KAIA,
AGE 7
[Editor’s note: If you’ve
followed the advice in this
section correctly, you’ll
likely end up with a creative,
extremely literate kid who
crafts essays like this one.]
WHO TO DATE:
First of all, date someone who likes the same things as you.
Example: Date someone who likes Harry Potter if you like
Harry Potter. You’re a geek, so find someone with glasses.
If you’re a girl, wear a pencil in your hair.
WHERE TO GO ON YOUR DATE:
If you are smart, go to a math center or just do math. Do
mostly geometry. Or take a trip to a museum.
Also, watch your favorite movie or show. Tip for girls
and boys: Maybe, if you like, read a comic about superhe-
roes, Superman, Krypton, or aliens.
HOW TO ACT:
No crying on your date, because if you cry you’re gonna
flood the room. Don’t randomly say “This date will go well.”
Do something you will always remember—such as both of
you saying “I’ll go get my pencil.” Girls, reach for your lip-
stick and, boys, get your breath spray ready . . . then kiss for
five minutes and happily ever after, blah blah blah.
Put on a romantic scene, or something like that, on TV.
Think geeky. If you call a friend during your date, say “Come
over tomorrow, I’m having a moment here.” Don’t say “Oh,
come on over and we’ll do some math.”
OTHER TIPS:
Don’t let a brother or sister ruin the moment (big or little
sister or brother).
DO NOT BE A FREAK.
Dating can sometimes be a real pain, because you can get
frustrated or mad. This is what happens when you’re in the
love boat: one little mistake can cause a lot of chaos.
Yes, kissing is allowed. If you did not know, I am telling you
now.
This is what you do not want on your date: yawns. Yawns
are not allowed on a geek date, because that shows you’re
bored.
OTHER IDEAS FOR YOUR DATE:
Play chess or checkers to lift your spirits. Eat pretzels and drink orange juice if
you’re hungry and thirsty. Or eat spaghetti with a long strand that you both eat,
and then you kiss.
Sometimes you want to hold back a kiss, but you can’t and it just comes out and
happens anyway. Do not let that happen or nothing is romantic. You want to wait
a little. And a kid might see you and think “Bleh!” Be respectful around children.
Work on science after all that.
If you want to, talk about plants or write a book. If you reeeeeeaaally want to,
marry your date in a geeky wedding.
THE END!
KAIA DUETT writes books and comics, sometimes even when it’s past
her bedtime. Her current projects include How to Train a Pet and Dogs Are
Mostly Good and Bad.
EPILOGUE REQUIRED READING
The ultimate lessons for geek life come from
the geek canon itself. Generations of heroes—
in comic books, movies, TV shows, and video
games—have stepped up, struggled, and
succeeded, and it’s up to us to follow their
example. So we’ll close with some entertain-
ing astuteness from great minds. Take these
pieces of transmitted wisdom, live their truths,
and never give up (never surrender).
“ With great power comes great
responsibility.”
—Stan Lee, Marvel Comics
Spider-Man’s uncle told him this, and that’s why he became
Spider-Man. George Washington realized it, too, and that’s
why he decided eight years was long enough for anyone to
be president of the United States. Tim Allen tried to dodge
around it, and that’s why his dishwasher exploded. King Da-
vid said to hell with it and had his lover’s husband killed, and
that’s why he had epic family problems for the rest of his
life. Paris Hilton seems oblivious to the very concept, and
that’s why animal lovers have long been inclined to worry
about her poor, poor dog. And Albert Einstein realized the
full, inhuman horror of it—that’s why he wrote to Frank-
lin Roosevelt to explain the possibility of an atomic bomb.
Sure, the seed of the truism can be found in Luke 12:48 (“To
whom much is given, much is expected”). But although the
word of that uppity young Jewish carpenter from Nazareth
may be eternal, it took an uppity young Jewish comic-book
writer from New York City to put it in terms that ring true to
the modern ear.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
“ Fantasy is the impossible made
probable. Science fiction is the
improbable made possible.”
—Rod Serling
We geeks spend an inordinate amount of time defining and
categorizing the ways in which we retreat to worlds that do
not exist. Looked at closely, however, Serling’s variation on
the distinctions usually drawn between fantasy and science
fiction serves to underscore not the differences between
genres but, rather, the similarities. In doing so, it ties geek
culture together as a community of daydreamers. Intelligent
daydreamers. Ultimately, we all want to see and experience
worlds that are not our own. Our motivations may differ:
we want escape; we want to envision what the world could
be; we want to explore dreams both possible and impossi-
ble. Yet our need to daydream remains the same. Whether
it stems from dissatisfaction with our lives or from an im-
pulse to see shades of fantastic in an otherwise mundane
world, one thing is clear: We geeks all share an important
trait. It’s not just that we can imagine—everyone can—it’s
that we’re not afraid to.
Serling’s Twilight Zone, like the magazine Weird Tales that presaged it,
inhabited a funky storytelling space where the tropes of science fiction, fan-
tasy, and horror swirled around and through one another rather than main-
taining rigidity. Over the past decade, geekdom has begun to break down
those artificial barriers once again.
The original quote, from Amazing Fantasy # 15 (1962), is: “With great pow-
er there must also come—great responsibility!” Subsequent references
rounded off the pretentious edges.
Read about this
quote in Geek
Wisdom: The Sacred
Teachings of Nerd
Culture edited by
Stephen H. Segal
“ The ship that flies without a
thruster fails.”
From William Shakespeare’s Star Wars (Act V, scene 4) by Ian Doescher
HAN SOLO What value hath reward when one is kill’d?
What benefit gives honor to the dead?
To try the fight against that station, Luke,
Is not good courage, rather suicide.
LUKE SKYWALKER Then take thou care now, Han, thou Solo act,
For certain ‘tis the part thou best dost play.
HAN SOLO Nay, listen: may the Force be with thee, Luke.
[Exit Luke.
The ship that flies without a thruster fails:
Propulsion and direction must one have
To navigate the obstacles of space.
I know ‘tis true, as any pilot doth.
Then how can I imagine that a man
Can fly without a conscience as his guide?
Without the inner compass of my soul,
How can I vainly hope to pilot life?
I know what ‘tis to choose the right and good,
I know the small Rebellion’s cause is just,
I know the people here have need of help,
I know all this, but still do harbor doubt.
Yet shall my doubts lead me unto this choice,
And shall I choose convenience over right?
Or shall I choose myself o’er my new friends?
Aye, shall I choose rewards o’er my own soul?
A smuggler’s heart doth keep calm time inside,
No matter sways a pirate’s peaceful pulse.
But something stirs in me I ne’er have felt:
Is this a Rebel’s heart I feel within?
[Exit Han Solo.
From William
Shakespeare’s
Star Wars by Ian
Doescher

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful