Ben Wyatt: King of Nerds

Bazinga. Lots of people like to talk about Big Bang Theory and how it has promoted nerd culture. Nerd culture, though, has fundamentally rejected the image that Big Bang Theory has displayed. Going as far as creating over the top shammy looking comics on the internet, satirizing the show.

Image result for zimbabwe meme

Why? It doesn’t promote the idea of the casual nerd. Somebody who likes math, and board games, and TV show lore, but when in a normal human situation, acts like a normal human.

Everybody in Big Bang Theory is a caricature. Sheldon has 0 people skills, absolutely none, he straddles the line into being a sociopath. Raj physically can’t talk to women without being drunk. Howard is a grown man and still lives in his mom’s house (until later, but we aren’t counting that). Finally, Leonard comes closest to being an actual human, understanding that he can’t just talk about geek stuff 24/7 with people who aren’t interested in geek stuff.

But even Leonard pales in comparison to the true nerd king:

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Ben Wyatt from the hit TV show Parks and Recreation, a man who is weird and awkward at times, but also is fully capable of speaking to other human beings. Just that alone gives him a huge step up from those on Big Bang Theory.

Some people might argue though that Ben isn’t a nerd. He doesn’t bring up geeky or nerdy things as much as those on Big Bang Theory, and that’s exactly my point, he is a nerd, but you might not even be able to tell. So here are my arguments:

Treat Yo’ Self. When Ben tried to treat himself he got a Batman costume. I don’t feel like that needs an explanation.

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The Iron Throne scene. He gets to sit on the iron throne and is so blown away by it that the only lines that he can re-enact are “yes” and “no.”

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He loves accounting. He genuinely likes working with numbers, which is pretty nerdy if you ask me. But beyond that he is able to crack math jokes with the most boring of accountants. Not only is he a nerd, but he is the funniest of the nerds.

Image result for Ben Wyatt Accounting

Lastly, he is the architect of Cones of Dunshire. If creating a super complex board game that involves a rule about rolling dice for how many dice you will roll doesn’t make you nerdy, I don’t know what else does.

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All my point really is  is that he does all of this weird geeky nerdy stuff, and still has friends and a wife and children, and is a completely realistic normal person. In my book this is one of the best interpretations of the casual nerd that exist.

Throwing a Pigskin

How much you wanna make a bet I can throw a football over them mountains?… Yeah… Coach woulda put me in fourth quarter, we would’ve been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.

-Uncle Rico, Napoleon Dynamite

I was never really good at football. By that I mean my mom was a little protective and I never got to play. I really don’t mind, football is a dangerous sport anyways.

This blog post isn’t about football though, this blog post is about regret and denial.

I know, I know. Maxwell you said this wasn’t going to be a lifestyle blog. Maxwell I thought you were going to do more music reviews. Maxwell, why don’t you talk about games or math or something.

I am going to live in denial a little bit and say that this post is really a character analysis more than it is a lifestyle commentary, although you can expect it to devolve into some form of rant. The character I am partially analyzing is Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

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If you haven’t seen Napoleon Dynamite shame on you I understand. It is a strange movie where it doesn’t really feel like there is a solid plot and every character is a caricature of an actual human.

Uncle Rico is the uncle to the main character Napoleon. That’s about it. He really doesn’t have much going for him. He is the caricature of regret and denial.

Although a grown man, Uncle Rico constantly references high school and how his coach didn’t put him in during state football championships. Most of his screen time is taken up by watching him record himself throwing footballs, aimlessly.

One of the scenes depicts him trying to use a (fake) time machine, so he can go back in time and correct the mistakes of the past.

His character is the epitome of denial, spending all of his present time wallowing, believing he should have earned something that is now long gone and out of reach.

Do not be like Uncle Rico.

If you don’t play football, you are halfway there.

I’m just kidding though, everyone probably has dealt with denial or regret. Everyone’s life is littered with mistakes, good days, bad days, alright days and so on and so forth. It is easy to get bogged down by a bad day and then caught up in a fond memory and think that you were so much better off then. The fact is you are selecting data and creating bad math.

And here is where I start talking about math.

First off, as humans we have an innate ability to see patterns and analyze things. I don’t mean we do it well, honestly we are pretty terrible at it. Optical illusions play on our brain’s desire to see patterns, and people still assume that 939578991 is more random than 123456789.

Now here is what you need to know about life and then about statistics.

No matter how hard you try you are going to have a bad day, if your life is amazing and awesome in every way you are still going to have bad moments, and still going to have regrets about your life.

On the flipside though, no matter how terrible and depressing your life is you are still going to at least have a couple of good moments.

The fact is that no matter how much you don’t like statistics, your life is a scatterplot. The ultimate goal in life is to be an upward trending scatterplot, kind of like the one below.

scatter plot showing strong positive linear correlation

The Y-axis would be your overall self-satisfaction.
The X-axis is time (how classic).
The line not only is the average but what you believe the satisfaction you should be getting out of your day is.

People that get too stuck in the past have a graph that looks like this.

Notice that it putters out.

If you get too attached to a memory and find yourself saying that those were the glory days, that you no longer can be as good as you were, that you PEAKED, then this is probably what your life is like. You never actually get back to that level of self-satisfaction because you are now comparing your entire life to a single event.

The best way to remedy this is by first coming to the realization that you did not in fact peak. If you are life-ing properly you should peak when you die.

You are going to have good memories and they will define you.
You are going to have bad memories and they will define you.
The important part is that they aren’t unreachable.

If you live your life saying that you can never reach the pit that is your worst memory, then the rug could slip out from under and you could make the same mistake.

If you live your life saying that you can never reach the heaven that is your best memory, then I guarantee right now that you never will.

Your good memories should be motivation for how great your life can be. You should stop at nothing to the consistently reach the level of satisfaction of those memories. You can never relive those memories but you can make new memories that are just as great if not better.

Your bad memories should be there to motivate you to do better. Realistically, no matter how motivated or talented or happy or complete you are there will always be a bad day every now and then. The point of your bad memories is to minimize these bad days and the problems that they cause. You can’t fix them because they have passed, but you can learn from them.

All in all, the past is the past and we can’t ever reach it again, so use it as a lesson and then move on. The only part your present self can effect is your future self, and the only part your future self can thank is your past self.

Monster of the Week

My favorite TV show format is definitely Monster of the Week. This is essentially a trope where every episode has a different problem to solve that gets wrapped up nicely and then put away to (usually) never be seen again.

This is different from shows like Breaking Bad where every episode is just one step closer towards completing a seasonal arc and just about every interaction is meaningful.

I didn’t realize that I enjoyed the heck out of this format until I looked back at all the shows I’ve really enjoyed. Now don’t get me wrong, all these shows also contain a large story arc that span the many monster of the week arcs, but that doesn’t mean that they are excluded from the category.

To start, I love X-Files.

If you haven’t heard of X-Files, it is a show about FBI agents Mulder and Scully who go from town to town to investigate paranormal activity. The great thing about this show is the relationship between the two main characters. Mulder is defined by his firm and unwavering faith in the paranormal, while Scully is more stoic in her beliefs and fails to believe unless an adequate scientific reason can be produced.

The next show I would suggest that follows this format is Fringe.

Fringe is roughly a generic copy of X-Files, but is still very good. It follows FBI agent Olivia Dunham and Walter Bishop who work in the FBI’s Fringe division. They also go from town to town to investigate strange occurrences that don’t exactly seem natural. It is very good and the shows overarching plot is actually very good.

Twilight Zone is the epitome of the Monster of the Week format.

Twilight Zone is a TV show where every episode has a different premise, which is usually either dark, or insightful, or both. The episodes usually contain a nice twist as well, such as book-loving who survives the nuclear apocalypse accidentally breaks his reading glasses. If you haven’t ever seen this show I definitely recommend looking up the episodes that are well referenced in pop culture and watching them.

Finally, the show that convinced me to write this post was Supernatural.

This show follows two brothers who roam across the country purging the supernatural entities that they find. What is great about this show is that every episode showcases a different creature of actual folklore or they have an episode about urban legends. It is just really cool to see their versions of vampires and werewolves, and also how they take care of Bloody Mary.

Weekend at Psychopath’s

Bernie Lomax would be the perfect host except for one small thing… He’s Dead. His two psychopathic employees try to still have a party once they find his dead body.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed watching Weekend at Bernie’s. It’s funny, it’s goofy, it’s charming, it’s a late 80’s early 90’s classic. The thing is though, it’s not quite right.

If you haven’t seen Weekend at Bernie’s I would suggest doing so, it is a pretty funny movie and as weird as it is you will definitely get a laugh. That said, if you have no intention of seeing the movie and would rather read my plot synopsis and critique then be my guest.

The plot is essentially this:

  1. Two accountants find a 2 million dollar inconsistency in the ledger.
  2. They take it up to their boss, who is the reason for this inconsistency (unknown to them)
  3. Their boss, Bernie Lomax, invites them to his beach house to kill them
  4. The mobsters that Bernie works for decides to kill Bernie instead (don’t worry, there are reasons, not particularly great reasons, but reasons)
  5. The two employees show up and find their boss dead
  6. Instead of reporting it to the police, they decide to relax at his beach house for a weekend and slap some shades on Bernie so nobody thinks he is dead.
  7. A bunch of scenes where the mob is confused about Bernie still being alive
  8. A dead body defeats the mob

Now here is where it gets weird. Who in their right minds would see a dead body and go, “Oh, let’s hang out with that dead body and keep throwing parties and have a great weekend.”? Psychopaths, that’s who.

What does the movie do to justify this behavior? Glad you asked. It defines the two characters by two different things. One of them is just trying to have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend at a beach house and is defined by his erratic behavior the entire movie. The other character seems completely normal, hard working, middle-class American male, who would be very likely (as in actually attempts) to report a dead body when he sees one.

So when it finally comes time and the scene happens where they see the dead body, the erratic one immediately sees the body as a ticket to having chilling in a beach house and throwing parties all weekend, AKA complete detachment from death. The other protagonist acts accordingly, kind of.

The normal(ish) protagonist tries to hold up an argument of morality by suggesting (as he should) that they shouldn’t defile a dead body for a weekend of fun at a dead man’s beach house. What this protagonist learns though is that the girl of his dreams just happens to also be at that beach and quickly changes his position to that of his friend.

The whole movie plays it off as a lighthearted comedy. As they continue to fling around the dead body they can’t stop making dead person jokes, which although in any other context would be tasteless, actually appears pretty funny. All in all, the movie does a good job about hiding the morbid fact that it is about two psychopaths who would stop at nothing to have a fun weekend.

Just remember if you watch it, take a step back and think. Do you know of anyone who would fake a dead body being alive to hang out at a beachfront house and party for a weekend? If so here is my wise words of advice, DO NOT DIE AROUND THEM.