Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Stolen” baseballs

At a recent Rangers game, a couple was caught on film denying a game ball to a crying toddler, and they have been put through the social media ringer over it since then. Here’s the video…

I think the announcer was being a little harsh, myself. It didn’t look like they were “rubbing it in” – though they certainly were oblivious. In fact, they’ve copped to not noticing the crying kid in their excitement. I have no problem believing that in what was a noisy and excited situation.

Here’s the thing, though… the ball was really never anywhere near that kid, and his father never got that close to having it either. The ball was never rightly the kid’s. Yeah, it’s disappointing for him, I’m sure, and they could have given it to him just to be nice. But I have no sympathy. You know why? I had it worse.

Way back in the ’70s – when the Phillies were awesome – I actually went to a few games with my Dad. Only once, to my memory, did we ever sit anywhere in Veteran’s Stadium that it would even be possible for a ball to make it near us. But amazingly, in that one instance, the foul ball was hit right to us. And I mean that literally. Right. To. Us. It was liked they aimed it.

Let’s set some context here. This was Philadelphia in the ’70s. Phillies fans are known for a lot of things, but politeness is not one of them. In that video above, you saw people grabbing for the ball. In Philly, they dive over the seats, not even caring if they spill their beer (which is saying something with that crowd). And the Phillies were doing well back then, so excitement was high and attendance was up (or so I assume… it’s not like I researched it).

Anyway… the ball came straight at us. I didn’t catch it, but it did bounce and land directly in front of my seat, and I did pick it up. Midst the tumult of grasping digits and thrusting arms, it was in my hands, solidly — I had a ball hit by one of the Phillies! — for about 1.47 seconds, before some huge drunk guy shoved his weight into me and grabbed the ball right out of my hands, jumping up with it held high above his head grunting triumphantly. I’m pretty sure he still had his beer in his other hand as he walked back to his seat a few rows back and over.

Yeah, that’s right… he jumped a few rows and the stairs to man-handle a ball out of a kid’s hands. And he was proud of himself. I wasn’t as young as the kid in the video, but I couldn’t have been older than 7 or 8.

It’s just wrong, man. Where was my time on the giant screen? What announcer came to my defense? That’s right — nowhere, and nobody. (Dad did give him “the look” though – which was usually reserved for me and my brother after some less-than-well-considered activity, so I’m sure that guy was quaking (assuming he noticed).)

So do I have sympathy for the kid in the video? Well, yeah, okay, a little – come on, he’s just a kid. But I also have a healthy dose of “suck it up, kid” welling up inside of me. Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear takes the baseball right out of your hands and uses it to slap your hapless optimism into the gum-stained stadium floor where it’s stuck for the next 7 years.

On the plus side, though… memorable moment for me, and I still had a good time with my Dad.

The Nerd Badge is invalidly valid, therefore I get one

Lee posted his “Nerd badge” score recently. He failed to get it, and rightly so. Not because of any lack of nerd-dom on his part, but because of the idiocy of the test. Some guy posted a list of Twenty Things Every Sci-Fi Nerd Should Own Physically and Emotionally and it’s been making the rounds in the blogosphere recently. If you have or love 12 of the 20 things he listed, you “pass” and can be considered a nerd. I took a look at the list. I’ll go through it. But know this: it’s invalid. It mostly paints nerds as whiny fan-boys, which is stupid. At the end, I’ll tell you why I pass anyway.

  1. Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack –  No. I’m sure it’s very good, but I prefer Conan The Musical.
  2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – No, I don’t own, nor have I ever read this. Yes, I do know it’s the book “Blade Runner” was based on.
  3. The Twilight Zone Collection – No, although I do love the shows and I bought a season for my brother-in-law once. Do I get a quarter-point for that?
  4. The Original Star Wars Trilogy – WITHOUT ANY ADDED CRAP – Yes, I have the original VHS copies, which I keep meaning to get digitized. Though really, they aren’t the original originals either, you know. But Han still shoots first, and that’s what’s important. And do you know why it’s important? Because it’s a character change at the deepest level. I actually don’t have a problem with about 90% of the Special Edition changes (I don’t think they were all necessary, but I don’t lose sleep over them).
  5. A Profound Hatred for Star Trek Enterprise – No. It wasn’t great, but I disliked Voyager more. Yeah, it took a while to get past the theme song, but I did. It was actually pretty good by the last season. This is where the test starts to fall apart, though. Hatred? Disappointment, perhaps…
  6. The Lord of The Rings Extended Edition, The Soundtracks and all of the books – Okay, I get partial credit here. I own one extended edition and one theatrical. I don’t own the third movie at all. I want all the extended editions, though. I also own the first soundtrack and, yes, all the books. Multiple copies, in fact – well, technically I guess they belong to my wife, and she’s the one who has read them all over and over. I’ve read them all at least once (except Silmarillion – but I really did try; I just couldn’t).
  7. A Profound Sadness for the Way Battlestar Galactica Ended – Again… profound sadness? No. Disappointment and confusion, especially right after it aired, but guess what? I’m over it. It’s a TV show, people. I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the series – especially the first season – and I’d be willing to watch certain episodes again, but that’s the most attachment I can muster. Disgust or profound sadness? Can’t get there.
  8. A Passionately Favorite Version of the REAL Doctor Who – I can sort of see the argument for “new Who” and “old Who”, but both are “REAL Who”. The insinuation that the new stuff isn’t valid because it has good special effects is sort of stupid. And I really like Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Patrick Troughton, and all three of the new set, so… I can’t say I’m passionate about an individual version. But when someone mentions Doctor Who, Tom Baker is still the first to spring to mind, so maybe that counts.
  9. A Fear That Will Smith Will Someday Star in The Movie Adaptation of Your Favorite Book – I don’t have a problem with Will Smith. I actually like what he’s done in a bunch of movies. I also hate some of the movies he’s been in, but I don’t have a problem with him in those movies, usually. Most book adaptations are failures anyway. Even if they aren’t abject failures (like The Dark Is Rising), they’re usually missing something important (like Hugo). But again with the hatred in this test… why pick on Will Smith? Plenty of good actors out there who star in bad films.
  10. Toys from Your Childhood That You Refuse To Part With – I’ve got a couple Tranformers and some Star Wars stuff. I might even have a stuffed animal somewhere. I’ve passed a few things on to my kids. So… yeah I get points for this one.
  11. The Belief that the Word Midichlorian Was Just from a Nightmare and NOT a real Star Wars Movie – Again with the Star Wars hatred. I don’t have a problem with the concept of Midichlorians in the context of the story. Not my favorite aspect as it detracts a bit from the “magic” of “The Force” but … it’s a movie. It’s a valid way to go, story-wise. There are much better things to complain about in The Phantom Menace.
  12. The Original TRON Movie – Yep. Fun flick. You can even hear me talk about it.
  13. An affection for the TV show Firefly – Yep. Love it. Might even be time to watch it again soon.
  14. A Hatred for Chris O’Donnell – Once again, we’re back to hatred and a specific actor, for a specific role. Yeah, he was Robin in two horrible Batman films. But I like him. He wasn’t even close to the worst thing in those films, either.
  15. You Know Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics – Yeah, but I think this one is implying that I’m an Asimov reader, and I’m not. I don’t think I’ve read any of his books, actually. Possibly a short story or two. I do recognize that he’s very good, though.
  16. You think Cheetara is HOT! – Well, I did. And nostagically I still do, I suppose. But… cartoon.
  17. You Believe Aliens are our REAL Gods – No. That would be proof that I’m an idiot, not a nerd.
  18. You Have a Favorite Animated Cult Sci-Fi Movie – can’t come up with one, though I do like a lot of animated movies, so I’m willing to bet there’s one of my favorites that qualify as cult and sci-fi. Still, I’ll take no points here.
  19. You Blame Hot Rod for Optimus Prime’s Death – I barely remember Optimus Prime’s death, though I do vaguely remember being upset about it (and for those who are confused, this was back in the cartoon, not the Michael Bay movies).
  20. You DESPISE Michael Bay for [pissing] on your Childhood – (okay, I changed a word a little because I thought it was slightly less disgusting for some reason). Do I like the Transformers movies. No, can’t say I do. And Michael Bay has a habit of throwing explosions on a screen a calling it a movie. But in both cases sometimes it’s fun to watch. And again… despise? That’s a bit harsh. I disagree with a lot of his choices and am disappointed in the films he produces, but I’ll give his other films a chance, too. They’re over-the-top time-killing popcorn flicks, and there’s a place for that. I’ll probably even watch Battleship eventually.

Generously, I get 7 points. Very generously. Well below the 12 point threshold.

But I get a badge anyway, and here’s a taste of why:

  • I went to a Sci-fi convention before it was cool. Back when they were still being held in a couple of small conference rooms in a nondescript New York building with no elevator. I met Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation), who was the guest. She wasn’t on a stage separated from us geeks, she actually was only a few feet away. I had no idea who she was at the time. I can’t remember what year it was, but TNG may not have even aired yet, or possibly just started, so somewhere around 1986 or ’87 (when Comic-Con itself only had 5,000 attendees, as compared to over 120,000 these days).
  • Through college I went to multiple larger conventions and have seen almost all the main TNG actors, plus some from TOS. Again, back when you were more likely to get laughed at (more derisively) for going.
  • I played a Doctor Who Roll-Playing Game in my friend’s basement. Yes, that was even more nerdy of an experience than Dungeons-and-Dragons.

Those are the tip of the iceberg, but let’s just say you’re still on the fence about this. Here’s the final reason: the test is invalid. As I mentioned, it’s got a lot of negative bandwagoning going on, which is more about being a fan-boy, not a nerd. So it’s not a nerd test, it’s a fan-boy test (and technically there’s not a lot of sci-fi in there, so we’re just going to ignore that aspect).

Now, here’s where I blow your mind: Yes, the test is invalid, but that’s what makes it valid.

I can hear your brains beginning to pop. Stick with me.

One defining thing that a nerd will do is argue what to many people are insignificant and potentially tangential details of the target of their nerddom. So in presenting a list that is obviously invalid, the real goal is obviously to get the nerds to argue over it, thereby validating the test. But the real test is whether you’ll argue about it, not how many items you can match.

Hence, therefore, and ergo, the mere existence of this post proves my nerdity. Hand me my badge and don’t forget to clean up those brain spots you’re leaving on the floor before you leave.