Thursday, December 22, 2011

My geeky christmas traditions

I’m on a blog-spree at the moment. It’s all part of getting ready for Christmas, I assume. And speaking of which, why not take the time amid gifts, stress and the ton of responsibility and obligations during the season, and reflect upon our most sacred nerdy traditions?
With Christmas being no more than a few days away (of course that depends on your present location) I thought it to be fun to investigate some of my own nerdy traditions every year around this time. All within the geeky domain. This also allows me to fret even more over what I haven’t accomplished yet.

Watch Gremlins

I am sure there are more people out there who agree with me on this than I’d originally imagine. Also pointed out by The Nostalgia Crittic in a review, it’s somehow odd to imagine that nothing spells cozy Christmas like tiny, demonic green men spreading terror and havoc. But truth to be told; there is an undeniable charm to the first Gremlin movie that always puts me in the mood to celebrate the time in which the world should stand still. Hopefully without impish critters, but I assume that only emphasizes how much we have to be joyful about?
As I once mentioned, there are two things I’ll likely never, ever write about on this blog. Movies and comics, mostly because I am not qualified enough to say something clever about either. For the same reason, the only thing I could possibly say about Gremlins is; it blends its elements together so well. The dark humor, slapsticks, and that it really does feel like Christmas in a realistic sense. That the season doesn’t have to solely include boundless joy, peace and happiness, but that we should always remember there is a darker and/or more realistic side of it.
Oh yeah, and that final line “Byyyeeeee Biiilllyyyy” really gets to me every time. Wonder whether I can teach my hedgehog something similar.
Gremlins is definitive must every Christmas.

Watch Home Alone
More or less the same deal, but HA I can be more forgiving about missing. I’m generally talking about the first one here. The second one is decent, but let’s be honest, they change so very little about the original formula that it barely matters which one you watch. I suppose the first one always seemed a bit more clever and original to me, regarding jokes and the traps. Again, it’s always nice to see a Christmas movie that doesn’t take itself all that seriously, even though it does become progressively cheesier and over the top happy towards the end.
But then again, I suppose it wouldn’t be real Christmas otherwise.

Watch Star Wars Holiday Special

BEFORE you bring out the torches and pitchforks, allow me to say that this abomination is more in the tradition- than guilty pleasure-territory. I originally began watching SWHS some years ago and had to turn it off after 10 minutes since I honestly couldn’t stand another moment. It wasn’t until I watched Doug Walker’s (The Nostalgia Critic) review that it did become really entertaining. If you wish for the full time horror, but actually laughing at it, the Rifftrax version is quite awesome as well.
It’s really hard to say anything about SWHS that hasn’t been said or throw any stone that hasn’t been thrown. It’s a god awful creature that likely cries itself to bed every night, knowing it never became the son Lucas wanted. But still, this is Christmas and we make the best of everything. The real trick to SWHS is to paint your Warhammer-armies while ‘watching’ it. In that way, you can at least focus elsewhere than Bee Arthur.

Watch the first Futurama episode featuring the evil robot-Santa

I’ll make a confession; I really don’t like Futurama all that much. It’s more of a ‘not so excited about it’ than ‘I can’t stand it’ thing. I’ve given it loads of tries and chances but it never stuck with me for good. I’ve been through the Simpsons-phase (which I don’t find that awesome either) and the Family Guy era (about same story) leaving only South Park left.
But Futurama will always have that amazing Christmas special in which the evil Santa Claus drops by, it’s just about the only episode I can watch repeatedly and it’s never really Christmas without it.

Watch the Black Adder Christmas Carol
This is the last of the videos, I promise, but it had to be included. I’m a huge fan of Black Adder and if you’re too but haven’t seen their brilliant version of Charles Dickens’ eternal classic, you really should. Again, quite an alternative take on tradition, but it’s so clever that it works wonders in my book.

Christmas-shopping on Steam

Those who know me are aware of my Steam-fanboyism. I’ve been an avid user of it for years and my collection has started to become quite impressive. It likely has to do with my immense joy of browsing their catalogue, analogous to my girlfriend and her obsession looking through those colorful magazines from real life stores. But as we all know, real life will always be subpar compared to the digital world.
It has actually come to the point in which I set aside a pool of money every December because I KNOW I’m going to spend some on Steam once their sale starts. This year has, however, been rather kind to me. The new gift-idea is quite clever and even though I’ve only won a voucher and two minor games, I’m still quite fond of it. One of the games I gave to a friend (Monkey Island Special Edition, since I already have it) and I try to keep up getting those achievements. It’s a cozy tradition and I hope I’ll be tempted again since the only game I’ve bought this Christmas is Tales of Monkey Island. At least I might save my voucher for Left for Dead 2.

Goes without saying really, but it has to be there. Mostly while I watch one of just mentioned points.

Play Icewind Dale 

This actually eluded me completely this year. Likely because I started a new job and was utterly devastated when I got home. And the times in which I had energy to spare we usually gamed Pathfinder.
I don’t know whether it’s the snow and ice-theme or it has a deeper explanation, but I’ve always liked to immerse myself in the IWD-game (the first one, of course) once the weather outside got dark and the wind chilly. I usually never complete it, but make it to around the Severed Hand before abandoning it for something else. Likely because IWD is one of those games you throw yourself at furiously and then realize how horrible long dungeons it involves.
I did complete it some years ago, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I’m a bit sad, however, that I didn’t get around to it this year. But then again, there might be some time in between Christmas and New Years Eve.
Provided I don’t get The Old Republic for Christmas…

Great Father Winter – World of Warcraft
Speaking of the MMO’s it’s almost mandatory to mention WoW. As you might know, I’ve closed my account but still have time left till the 28th of December. Luckily this allows me to experience the Father Winter tradition ingame, one more time. Pretty much the only holiday event I’ve spent time doing in WoW.

This likely has something do to with the fact that back in Vanilla this was, IIRC, pretty much one of the only holidays around, and since I began playing around august 2005 it was the first I encountered.
I had quite a lot of fun then, but as far as I remember it didn’t involve that much except a few gifts under the tree. Think my rogue still has some of them, actually.
Now I’m on the Horde-side and even though an orc doesn’t spell as much Santa as the dwarf, it’s still quite cozy. Christmas in the real world wouldn’t just be the same in a traditional sense, without Christmas in Azeroth.

Enya – And winter came
Without One Toy Soldier and White Is In there can be no holiday. It’s not like I put them on repeat or anything. I just have to listen to them once. Or twice.

Read Terry Pratchett’s  ‘Hogfather’
I might also add books to the list I’ll never write about, but at least my foundation is a bit better in this regard. This is another one I managed to skip out on this year, I even missed the alternative which is watching the (rather bad) movie-adaption of it. And you know, I’m a bit sad about it.

I love the Discworld books, I’ve read most of them except the most recent ones, and Hogfather is one of my favorites along with Guards! Guards! and Reaper Man. It’s not a book that is easily read, though, if you really want to dig deep into the philosophical world of Pratchett. I don’t know why, but to me this book has always been one of ‘deepest’ in the series, since there is frankly very little going on action-wise but a whole lot of stuff on the metaphysical-belief-oriented plane.
On top of that the humor is great, the atmosphere is just about right for your average Christmas setting with your average touch of Discworld. Somehow this book always manages to set me in the right mood for the season, so I suppose I will have to do better next year. Or the sun will never rise tomorrow.

The Sim City 2000-Christmas Eve tradition
This is likely the most weird tradition of them all and also the newest. I have no idea why I adopted it. It began about two years ago, when I sat down on Christmas day to spend some time (in my country we celebrate on the night of the 24th so during the day everything seems to get a bit hectic). I mostly stay at my mothers’ during Christmas, so I decided to fire up something old school; namely Sim City 2000 (random pick, really).

I’ve always liked SC2000 but again the memories are from a childhood in which I had no clue what to do, so mostly it consisted of cheating. This time, though; I wanted to prove I was better than that. It worked out. Sort of.
Long story short, I did end up spending more than an hour and a half perfecting Maynardville, actually making it run. I saved the game and got social and forgot all about it.
The year later, when I returned, it was still there! So I went for another hour or so, expanding my metropolis. And you know what, I’m going to do the same this year. Hopefully I’ll soon get to that drome-technology, so I can squeeze in even more citizens.
I’ll admit; it is rather weird. But also peculiar. It’s my tradition and I intend to honor it as long as I can. And then start over in Sim Farm.

The Christmas Carol – The Disney version
Those of you who’re familiar with this might understand my fascination. The amount of reinterpretations that have been done over Dicken’s beloved classic is beyond counting but this one is obviously one of the best I can think of. I’ll admit, it likely has to do with the fact that I watched it a lot as a kid. This is good classical Disney that isn’t too afraid to also include some of the more gloomy elements of the story.
If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you watch it. It’s a nice, short little story.

Looking back, I actually didn’t do all that bad. Most of it I got around and the few loose ends I just have to compensate for at a later time.
After all this is the time of year that is more about traditions than everything else. I’ll happily admit that a part of me becomes like a child once more, and if delayed, I do my best to invoke it. These traditions have always helped me doing so and sure as hell haven’t failed me this year either.
I wish you all the best with (almost) whatever your traditions involve!

- Maynard.


  1. ULTIMATE WoW GUIDE has created the NUMBER 1 in-game guide for the gold hungry World of Warcraft players that only want to reach the highest level and make piles of gold.

    Unlike PDF methods our unique guide works in-game, to constantly tell the player what to do, step-by-step.

  2. Thinking of getting rich in World of Warcraft?

    Consider Installing the DYNASTY: TYCOON GOLD ADDON.

    It will automatically highlight the most profitable gold strategies inside the game, in real-time.