I could be unbelievably corny and opine that we’ve “Come A Long Way, Baby…” And regardless of how hackneyed a comment that would be, it’s the simple truth: Nerds and Geeks (use whatever term you like–the differences between them are a subject for another article) are at the vanguard of modern pop culture and entertainment: Scientists are celebrities, comic book heroes are movie stars, supermodels talk of their love for video games….This is the world Nerds built….
And this list celebrates some of it’s greatest architects.
Honored here are actors, comedians, filmmakers, physicists, TV personalities, and writers. All are card-carrying geeks, and all have contributed something unique to this wonderful Nerdiverse of ours. In the interest of communicating exactly what makes each of these personalities worthy of inclusion here, I have included a quotation from each of them (and links to their respective Facebook Pages in their names).
Anyhoo, let’s proceed with the list proper–starting at number ten with:
The CW has a huge respect for their original network shows, a dedication that a lot of other networks don’t carry for their created series. With such a fan base the network has seen the need to expand on their content and delve into spin-offs through several backdoor pilots. In April, The Vampire Diaries made way for the New Orleans vampire melodrama The Originals and Barry Allen, DC’s second Flash, will be revived in an appearance in season two of Arrow and is on the fast track to his own pilot series. Now it looks like CW is going after Eric Kripke‘s long running Supernatural franchise.
Headed into season nine, with a rumored tenth season being its last, the network has given the green light to a new pilot written by Supernatural supervising producer Andrew Dabb. In an announcement through Deadline, this new series from Warner Bros. TV will differ from the on the road adventures of Sam and Dean, focusing on the city of Chicago and the clashing hunter and monsters in the city limits. Not much else is known, as the spin-off is still in its early stages, but some fans are calling for guest star Felicia Day to star somewhere in it.
Her character, the I.T. expert turned hunter in training, proved to be a fan favorite for the series and is one of the few regulars still alive and kicking. The inclusion of her character would be a welcome connection to the new show, but there is some worry that her character wouldn’t be strong enough for a reoccurring weekly role.
What do you think though, would Day be a good choice as series regular?
When you really think about it, musicals are actually quite a nerdy genre:
Not only do they have their die-hard adherents, as anything qualifying as “nerdy” must, but even the most mundane musicals have an element of the fantastical to them. Think about it: Musicals are populated by people who think it’s perfectly normal to break into song for literally any reason, people for whom an intricately choreographed dance number is an everyday occurrence….
Does anyone ever stop to think about just how WEIRD that is? (well, Joss Whedon did, but I’m getting ahead of myself)
Some musicals, of course, take this a step further, and draw from the various franchises and genres that we, as nerds, know and love for their inspiration. Others are just totally batshit insane, thus making them quite appropriate for a card-carrying nerd’s movie library. It is such musicals that we honor here today.
I have deliberately left out musicals that have so far only been stage productions. Not that I have anything against live theatre, but such musicals are so numerous as to warrant their own list. Instead, I’ve decided to stick to film or television (and in one case: neither) productions. These media are much better known to nerddom, anyway–no offense, Theatre Geeks!
So clear your throats, and prepare to sing along with:
10. Phantom Of The Paradise
One of Brian de Palma’s very first films, Phantom of the Paradise is unique to say the least. “Weirder Than Tits On A Bishop” would be more to the point. It’s a celebration/brutal satire of 1970s pop music tropes, and the music business in general in the form of a musical based on a combination of Phantom of the Opera, Goethe’s Faust, and Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Grey. The songs were written and performed by ’70s musical wunderkind Paul Williams, best known for scoring The Muppet Movie. Williams also plays the film’s villain–and he gives one of the most disturbing performances in cinema history: Directing a sex tape for your grandparents is less unsettling than Paul Williams as evil record producer “Swan”. Above is the film’s trailer, with a voice-over by one of the most influential directors and nerds in Hollywood: Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim, Ant-Man)
9. Sweeney Todd
As awesome as Tim Burton’s cinematic adaptation of the famed musical tale of the semi-legendary murderous barber and the gruesome uses his accomplice, a baker of meat pies, found for his victims is, it’s a bit too mainstream to warrant a higher ranking on a list like this. I’m not judging which musicals are the BEST, merely the NERDIEST.
Still, Burton‘s Sweeney Todd has it’s share of nerd cred: “Burtonverse” fixtures Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter make the roles of Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett their own (and have surprisingly good singing voices). The film is a casting director’s wet dream, with every role filled superlatively: Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall stand out as the draconian Judge Turpin and his repugnant toadie Beadle Bamford (yes, 3 members of this cast played Harry Potter characters!) Plus it’s visually magnificent, wickedly funny, and boasts some truly infectious musical numbers.
Oh, and blood. LOTS of blood.
8. Cry Baby
Sweeney Todd wasn’t Depp’s first musical–it was just the first he actually SANG in. Back in 1990, Johnny starred as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker in John Waters’ 50s retro musical Cry Baby. The nerdiness of this film may be a tad less apparent than some of the other entries, but John Waters’ fandom is zealous, if relatively small: Cult comedy nerds may not be the most vocal or visible branch of the nerd family tree—but trust me, we’re there! This hilarious film boasts a number of truly eclectic cameos and supporting roles: Including Traci Lords, Iggy Pop, Susan Tyrrell (remember that name, you’ll hear it again soon), Willem Dafoe, and Ricki Lake (Glenn Milstead, AKA “Divine”, was originally part of the cast, but sadly passed away before filming began).
7. Cannibal! The Musical
Cannibal! The Musical, thanks to legendary independent film studio Troma (the fine folks who gave the world the Toxic Avenger franchise), who distributed this odd little film, put the names Trey Parker and Matt Stone on the radar….last I heard, they had this cartoon thing on basic cable, and some stage show about Jehovah’s Witnesses, I think.
Would have thought they’d have amounted to more given how awesome this film is: Cannibal! tells the story of Alferd Packer–supposedly the first American ever to be tried for cannibalism (Packer DID exist, but Parker and Stone‘s historical accuracy is dubious at best). A VERY young Trey Parker plays the titular cannibal, with Stone and their perennial sidekick Dian Bachar in supporting roles. Parker wrote and performed the music, and the whole thing is far more fun, likeable, and sweet than a movie about eating human flesh should be. Fans of South Park will recognize little tidbits that would later pop up in the show: Matt Stone’s character is where the series got Kyle’s big red Jew ‘fro, and a line in the song featured above is referenced in South Park: Bigger. Longer, and Uncut when Kenny’s heart is accidentally replaced by a baked potato.
6. Little Shop Of Horrors
The original Little Shop of Horrors made bad movie history when infamous schlock filmmaker, Roger Corman, produced and directed it in just under 3 days–merely to prove that he could make a movie from start to finish in under a week.
Two decades later, that story of the little skid row flower shop and the man-eating plant behind its doors became a blockbuster Broadway musical, and was soon adapted into a film by “Muppeteer” Frank Oz. It’s quite simply one of the most purely enjoyable movie musicals ever made, due largely to the brilliant performances of Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin, seen above in the iconic role of dentist/domestic abuser Dr. Orin Scrivello, DDS.
5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Yes, friends: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, adapted from the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show (see what they did there?) in 1975 by director Jim Sharman, writer Richard O’Brien, and producers Lou Adler and Michael White. It’s a devious satire of Middle-American values crossed with an homage to classic horror and science-fiction cinema. Everyone knows the plot: Girl and Boy go for drive, Girl and Boy meet Alien Transvestite, Alien Transvestite creates Muscle Man in vat of chemicals, Everybody has sex, Alien Transvestite and his creation killed with lasers by the help, Castle flies off into space, THE END.
Oh, and there’s a lot of really kickass musical numbers in between the sex and the death somewhere.
RHPS is probably best known not on its own merits, but due to the following it has developed: For 38 years fans have been going to midnight showings across the globe where they watch not only the film, but a “shadowcast” in front of the screen in full costume (well, the GOOD casts do it that way 😉 ) miming the actions of the characters. The audience itself also gets into the action: Throwing things (carefully!) like toast and toilet paper at the prescribed times, and yelling call-backs and insults at the screen (an RHPS tradition from decades before MST3K or Rifftrax). In all seriousness, at least ONE trip to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror should be on everyone’s bucket list.
4. Shock Treatment
It’s likely many of you have never heard of this musical by the writers and producers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s equally likely that if you have heard of it, you’ve heard it’s a sequel to Rocky Horror. That isn’t entirely accurate. The filmmakers refer to it as an “Equal, Not A Sequel”. Many of the same characters, actors and settings from Rocky Horror are present, but it isn’t really a continuation of Rocky’s story line: You could see Shock Treatment without ever knowing Rocky Horror exists, and you wouldn’t miss a thing.
Anyhoo, I personally prefer Shock Treatment to its far more famous predecessor: RHPS had a few better actors, and arguably superior production values–but Shock Treatment has much better songs, and a generally “nerdier” vibe. Long before things like Reality TV or The Truman Show, Richard O’Brien envisioned a town that WAS a TV studio itself….where citizens actually lived in shows and the audience just slept in their seats. Again, Middle America is satirized–but it’s not its puritanical morals that are attacked, but its mindless consumerism and obsession with television. I grant you the plot does wander, and lacks Rocky Horror’s cohesiveness: But the superior music makes up for these flaws. (FUN FACT: That’s Rik Mayall of The Young Ones taking the Polaroids)
3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling
I almost didn’t include this. I wanted to stick to movie musicals, and besides: I’m a lukewarm BTVS fan at best (Angel and Firefly are another story). But our dear and fluffy editor insisted….
And he knew what he was doing! I love this in ways I cannot properly communicate with language. Once More, With Feeling is a work of sheer genius, and the best part is you don’t need to know barely anything about Buffy to enjoy it. The flashback at the beginning is comprehensive enough to bring non-fans up to speed. Here’s the skinny: The town’s under the influence of a song and dance-loving demon accidentally summoned by Dawn Summers. The citizens are breaking into musical numbers at random….just as they would in a musical, except they realize it’s abnormal. Buffy and the Scoobies are affected as well, leading to some great numbers from the show’s best loved characters. Joss Whedon outdid himself with this episode: He could have had a very successful career as a songwriter. Once More, With Feeling has become one of the most famous and beloved BTVS episodes, and has even been performed by live casts on stage!
(PS: Sorry for the subtitles, but getting a clip of anything owned by Fox in its original form on YouTube is like pulling teeth–this was the best I could do…the alternative was a mere slideshow)
Before he was the “Man Behind The Music” of Tim Burton’s film library, Danny Elfman fronted a New Wave/Ska fusion pop band called Oingo Boingo.
Before that, he composed and performed the music for an experimental musical theatre troupe in L.A. run by his brother RichardElfman called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo (hence the name)
Around 1980, when Danny decided he wanted to move from live theatre to music, he and Richard put together a movie version of everything the Mystic Knights was…sort of a “swan song” for the troupe, and Forbidden Zone was born. This utterly mad film follows the adventures of the unbelievably dysfunctional Hercules family, who discover a portal to a parallel universe called the Sixth Dimension in the basement of their new house. The music is a cacophony of conflicting styles, from jazz to rock to minstrel shows to Jewish Vaudeville–yet somehow it all works together, a testament to Elfman‘s genius. The cast includes the aforementioned Susan Tyrell and the late Herve Villechaize (yes, Tattoo from Fantasy Island) as the Sixth Dimension’s queen and king, and Danny himself as Satan (yes, SATAN). Unfortunately, early ’80s audiences didn’t quite get what the Elfman brothers were attempting here, the movie faced accusations of racism for its use of blackface, and it performed poorly at the box office…..Fortunately, the “Midnight Movie” crowd adopted it a few years later, and it’s developed a sizeable and rabid following.
1. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog
Our #1 is neither a movie nor a television show, but holy balls is it NERDY!!!
Joss Whedon’s internet sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog is nothing short of magic. It’s less than an hour long, but it easily out-nerds (if that’s a term) any feature length musical on this list. Neil Patrick Harris is Dr. Horrible: A budding supervillain torn between his devotion to evil and world conquest, and his crush on the pretty redhead at the Laundromat who runs a homeless shelter (if you never understood why nerds love Felicia Day so much, it’s because you never saw her in this). Horrible works out his frustrations on his video blog, and in song, as he works to gain the notice of legendary supervillain Bad Horse, and deals with the humiliation of constant defeat at the hands of Captain Hammer: World’s Douchiest Superhero (Nathan Fillion–obviously having the time of his life) who’s also dating his girl!
I won’t spoil the ending, but try to remember: This IS a Whedon production….
Every day the internet produces an astounding amount of goodies and gems. Most hilarious, some amusing, but all worth at least a few seconds of your time. We here at Nerd Bastards try to bring you the best bits of news and nerdery the webz has to offer, with a bit of snark thrown in. But sometimes not everything makes the cut. Monday through Friday we’ll be bringing you our inbox leftovers, our forgotten bookmarks, the nerdy bits that simply slipped through the cracks. You can submit items to Nerdy Bits by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOVE: Jessica Nigri is a Deadpool you wouldn’t want to mess with…. or maybe you would. I just really want those boots!
Gingers! So what’s the big deal? Why are so many of us apparently fascinated by folks with red hair, light skin, and occasionally freckles? Especially when such individuals become media personalities? “Red” is the rarest natural hair color on the planet: Only 1-2% of the world’s population have it. Red hair has been associated with personality traits such as fiery temperament, combativeness or aggressiveness, and an overactive–if not downright freaky libido. Religious and mythological figures from King David to Judas Iscariot to the Egyptian God Set have all been thought to be, or depicted as being Gingers. Oh, and with apologies to Marvel Comics and Chris Hemsworth: According to Norse mythology, Thor was a redhead–not a blonde.
As for why redheads are called Gingers in the first place, there seems to be no real consensus: It’s primarily a British term, and still considered mildly derogatory to many in the UK. One popular theory is that it has nothing to do with color, but instead refers to the hot-blooded demeanor redheads supposedly possess. Most likely, it started in the middle ages, when “Gynger” referred to the coloration of a red rooster. Regardless of the hows and whys, redheads stick out, and more than a few have made indelible marks on popular culture. Here then is ten of the most well-known and influential Gingers, who have risen to iconic status….despite the unfortunate handicap of having no souls.
Veteran nerdy musicians Paul and Storm, of w00tstock! fame, are already known for their nerdy music and catchy Twitter hashtags but they’re about to catapult into geek royalty with their new show Learning Town. The show, which centers around the shenanigans of the duo as they try their hand at children’s television, premiers on Geek and Sundry January 15th. Check out the interview below to see Paul and Storm dish about being nerds, setting puppets on fire and what makes them geek-out.
As a writer for this site you might think that I’ve shared in most of the experiences that the other Nerd Bastards crew have taken part in, but that would be a misconception. There are a few things I’ve personally never been a part of and one of them is going to a convention. So, this past weekend I took part in the third year of Hal-Con, the largest science fiction convention of its kind in Atlantic Canada.
The event, as I’ve said, is only in its third consecutive year. Having begun back in October of 2010 with an attendance of 1500 people, it quickly expanded to an astounding 4000 visitors the following year. The event has a few staple shows that have since become fan favorites of the young convention, but those I’ll touch on later. For now hit the jump and I’ll give you the story of one nerd’s first convention at this year’s three day event.
She is an actress, a business woman, and an innovator. Felicia Day is adored and idolized for her adorkable “one-of-us” appeal, her vision and her achievements in the realm of digital content creation. The woman who tamed the internet and made it work for her is now working for herself — creating original web series’ like The Guild, Flog, Vaginal Fantasy Hangout, and others that live (or will live) on her Geek and Sundry web channel. In short: Felicia Day is the queen of the internet, and in advance of the 6th season premiere of The Guild, I got a chance to talk to her about The Guild, a possible Doctor Horrible musical, and internet trolls.
The Geek & Sundry line up is so creatively diverse, the shows are sort of specialized, but they also really pull you in if you’re an outsider. I don’t like children, but Written by a Kid really pulled me in. Could something like Geek & Sundry live on TV or do you think the dream of a real, full geek television channel is kind of outmoded?
Felicia Day: I think that all of these shows that we created for this channel were aiming to be TV quality, even on our budget. That was my goal when I pitched the channel. I really wanted to do high-quality curated videos that would give a voice to whatever subject or sub-culture that we were giving a voice to with table top games or comics or Sci-Fi and fantasy literature. I think that there could definitely be a whole TV station full of shows, that’s kind of what we’re doing, we’re just on the web.
It’s interesting because there’s a lot of breakdown between where people get their content. A lot of people just started to cut their cord. I think it’s going to be interesting in the next five years. Like, where does a cable box go? How are these smaller channels on cable supported when people are moving to make more content digitally [on the net]?
It’s an interesting and complex business equation that I don’t really understand totally. I just know that I don’t have the opportunity to make all these shows on a TV station. I have the opportunity to make a whole channel on the web and it’s kind of been my dream forever, so that’s why I’m so excited to be working on this channel.
If you’re a routine peruser of the interwebz than I’m sure you’re familiar with Felicia Day’s uber-popular web series, The Guild. It’s basically the web show that made web shows into a thing and its returning for what looks like another epic season on October 2nd!
Today saw the release of the first trailer heralding the return of the Knights of Good on Day’s YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry, the new, official home of The Guild. Give it a watch!
I don’t know how they’ll be able to top last season’s convention, but I get a feeling the highlight is going to be Codex adjusting to her job working for the game she loves. How will Zaboo and the rest of the Guild react to her new busy schedule? Who knows! But I’m stoked to see Sandeep Parikh, Robin Thorsen, Amy Okuda, Vincent Caso, Jeff Lewis, and Day back in action in October, are you?
I’m sure some of you spent your Labor Day weekend outside, at a barbecue, maybe attending a nice fair or festival. Whatever you did I hope you enjoyed one of the last holiday weekends before we move into the seasons of less sunshine and more obligations. Me? Oh I raged for four days straight at the biggest nerd party of the year: Dragon*Con. Honestly, the weekend has been coming back to me in bits and pieces, especially as I scan through my Twitter account and think, “Huh? When did I tweet that?”
For those unlucky souls unable to attend Dragon*Con this year we here at Nerd Bastards tried to bring as much of the experience to you as our little smartphones would allow. I made sure to live-tweet panels I attended and our #DragonCon tweets – those I had room to tag anyway, for full panel live-tweets you’ll just have to search @nerdbastards during 8/31-9/1 – are available to check out, but here are a few of my favorites.
Barrowman just mooned the audience to start the #Torchwood panel! And I didn’t get a picture! DAMMIT! #DragonCon
Yes, you read that right. John Barrowman kicked off his panel by mooning us. This was at 11:00 am, so good morning Dragon*Con, indeed. It’s really of no surprise, but Barrowman is one raunchy fella, his panels should come with an explicit warning. All the hijinks aside – of which there were many including Barrowman screaming, “Buff man!” running out into the audience and fondling a mostly naked man dressed as a Spartan from 300 – we did get some interesting info about upcoming projects. For instance, Barrowman knows who his secret, millionaire character on Arrowreally is and says, “it’s AWESOME.” He also shared he is totally on board for more Torchwordonce he gets the call. And of that upcoming Doctor Who50th anniversary, Barrowman added as an actor he’d understand if he wasn’t included, but as a fan he’d be “exceptionally disappointed” and “gutted” to not be involved. I think I speak for just about everyone when I say I’d love for him to be in Who‘s 50th and I really hope they don’t overlook him.