On the Jazz #21: My Ten Best Geek Moments of ’04


By Matt Springer
January 07, 2005
The new year has at long last arrived, and with it comes the inevitable glut of 2004 lists, such as Best Songs By One-Fourth of No Doubt, Worst Celebrity Bowel Movements, and whatever else VH1 can slap together video packages about so that sixth-rate comedians and “writer/producers” can make glib and not-at-all-pre-scripted comments.

Sadly, this is the interweb and not the distant future, so the HI-larious Chris Briggs from The WB’s Superstar USA will not be leaping out of your screen to offer witticisms as I run down My Ten Best Geek Moments of ’04.

However, should you fax him a printout of this website and send him a crisp $50 bill via certified mail, I’m sure he’d be willing to throw something together.

10. That’s The Incredibles

Someone tell Avi Arad, Tim Story, Jessica Alba and the rest of those goofballs working on the new Fantastic Four movie to stand down. The best FF movie one could possibly imagine has already been released. Writer/director Brad Bird outdoes himself yet again, surpassing his brilliant The Iron Giant with the tale of a washed-up superhero looking for thrills and finding his family instead. The voicework, the humor, the stunning animation, the designs springing fully formed onto the screen from the brains of the Pixar supahgeniuses…what a package. If it won Best Picture at the Oscars (which it never will), I’d be perfectly happy.

9. Empire In A Garage

Leaving Chicago after almost 28 years (basically, my entire life) meant lots of goodbyes. None was quite as sweet as my final Chicago Force event. I gathered with about twenty of my fellow Star Wars geeks on an early summer evening to view The Empire Strikes Back on laserdisc in my buddy Dave’s garage. The weather turned sour quick and the garage didn’t quite hold us all, which meant some standing in the rain. No one seemed to mind, as the oft-seen flick quickly became little more than a backdrop to our usual geek bullshitting. A couple last beers at the fleabag bar up the street closed things out. I miss just about everything in that goddamned city, but I might miss my nerd posse most of all.

8. Good Night, Sweet Hair-Gelled Prince…

…and may boffo DVD sales for Angel sing thee to thy rest. Everyone’s favorite brooding Buffy spinoff said farewell this year with a whiz-bang final run at TV greatness. After watching “Smile Time,” in which the Fang Gang battled relentlessly against the undying evil of PUPPETS, it was hard to believe this stellar show was actually leaving the airwaves to make room for absolute shit. Yet leave it did, and we are Whedonless till this September, when Serenitysoars onto TV screens. Unlike its parent show, Angel didn’t have a stumbling, uneven final season, which made the ending all the more painful. I mourn the loss weekly (although having number 5 on this list to watch every Wednesday helps a shitload).

7. My First True LA Celeb Sighting!

Okay, so I don’t quite remember if it was literally the FIRST one, but here goes: Whilst exiting a screening of The Village, we spotted Jim J. Bullock, standing with friends in a hawaiian shirt and being just about as flamboyant and fabulous as you’d expect. (In fact, I immediately recollect that it wasn’t nearly our first true sighting; in fact, sitting in the same theater at that very movie were Emma “Anya” Caulfield and Selma Blair with Ahmet Zappa. But who gives a crap about them when Monroe himself is giggling less than 100 feet away???)

6. The Force Is With My DVD Player

Star Wars came to DVD, and boy, did it NOT suck NEARLY as much as I thought it would. My solitary two-mile hike up to Fry’s and back culminated in a fun afternoon of playing with the menus and watching awesome old commercials; viewing the two-hour-plus documentary later sealed my apprecation. It felt oh so very good to actually LIKE a product of Lucasfilm again.

5. Getting Lost

What can be said about Lost that hasn’t already been squawked in just about every media outlet existing today? Not much. It kicks my ass on a firm and consistent basis. Such amazing television. It almost makes me think broadcast TV doesn’t suck big donkey dick. Almost.

4. Geeks Convene at Comic-Con (No, Really)

It seems as though every year, something from Comic-Con makes my list. This year, I only spent a day at the con, but what a day it was. We enjoyed a screening of the final episode of Freaks and Geeks then savored a Q&A panel with all three geek actors, writer Steve Bannos (who also played the weasely Mr. Kowchevski), Natasha “Cindy Sanders” Melnick, and series co-creator Paul Feig. The entire event was infused with bittersweetness, as I suspect F&G-related things will always be, since the series truly met a tragic end. So much amazing potential, extinguished so carelessly by such fucking sad and stupid NBC execs. In spite of that, all involved were just as funny and personable as one could hope, especially Feig, who continues his reign near the top of another list of mine, that of Great Pop Culture Geniuses I Both Admire and Wish to Murder That I May Steal Their Lives Out From Under Them.

3. Two Screens Are Better Than One

Throughout the fall of ’04, my excitement for the Nintendo DS built to a mightily fevered pitch. Finally, on November 21, I made my way to my local EB Games at opening to pick up my own DS. Even though the only game I own isSuper Mario 64 DS, I’ve been having a ball. Nintendo truly pulled it off; it is an innovative, amped, and most of all fun successor to the GBA. Is it a PSP killler? Who knows. I only know I can’t wait for this year, when hopefully the full potential of this sweet little handheld will be realized by a slew of great titles.

2. Shatner & Folds: Live and INSANE

Picture it if you will: After a two-hour Ben Folds set, William Shatner takes the stage to perform cuts off his album Has Been. The crowd is stunned; some laugh, others scream for Ben, and a handful appreciate the true mad artistry of what they’re seeing. One of the appreciative (namely, me) screams toward the stage, in a rare moment of quiet, “We love you, Shatner!” Shatner grins, turns for a drink of water, and returns to the mic. “And I love you too,” he purrs, his every facial muscle telling us how much he knows and adores himself. Truly, I did not know life until I witnessed Shatner, Folds and guest Joe Jackson perform Pulp’s “Common People.” It made my year. IT MADE MY YEAR.

1. Living In The Dream Factory

Finally living in Los Angeles has been everything I expected, and nothing I expected. I expected to feel slightly giddy much of the time, especially when I drive past some pop culture landmark (Grauman’s Chinese, Warner Bros., Disneyland). I never expected us to be quite as comfortable and happy as we are in our new home. We love LA (WE LOVE IT!). Now it’s time for LA to let us know it likes us; it really, really likes us.

(And I only call it “The Dream Factory” because I just saw Faye Dunaway call it that at some godawful awards show, and it made me giggle with mocking glee.)

That’s a wrap, folks. See you in twelve months for another Top Ten…if I don’t throw myself off a building in abject sorrow over how awful Episode III was.