For too long, "nerd" has been synonymous with the sci-fi and computer crowd. The time has come, however, to gerrymander the battle lines and welcome other obnoxious fanboys who are otherwise too stuck on themselves to admit it. Here's your mirror, losers; welcome to "the dark side" (Star Wars, 1978).
If you've seen the documentary Wordplay (2006)... well, that's not really a surprise, is it? But then you're already aware that some nerds have been able to harness their powers for good (competitive crossword puzzle tournaments with big money prizes), instead of for evil (another lonely night staining your fingers Cheeto-orange). Sure, maybe it lacks the sex appeal of King of Kong (2007), but good for them (even though you're certain you would kick their layer of fat superimposed on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles).
The Cousin Eddies to those Clark Griswolds are the insufferable New York Times Crossword Puzzle Nerds (that's "cruciverbalists" to you) who make certain everyone on the train, at the office, or (gag) in the coffee shop all bear witness to their casually filling in the grid until all the spaces are inked - the obnoxious old media precursor to typing "first" in the comments section. Sometimes these nerds will even leave the folded newsprint husk on the table so as to impress the busboy with their well rounded knowledge of 85 Down's "Alex from "Webster"" and whatever the hell 33 Across' ""None of the leading salespeople came in today"?" is supposed to mean.
What makes these crucibalists so insufferable is that they try to convince everyone else that this passes for actual intelligence instead of solving their own riddle and revealing to themselves that their minds are just dust bins for useless information (another precursor to the Internet). At least solving all those pretentious puns, such as 40 Across' "Celebration after a 1964 heavyweight championship?" (FETE OF CLAY! D'ar har har!), will prepare them for a long career in Vaudeville.
Film was the dominant art form of the 20th century, and those who mastered the medium they invented (Griffith, Chaplin, Lang) understood that cinema was emotion; a sentiment, with some irony, not shared by cinephiles, who insist that hearing themselves talk about Michael Curtiz is a comparable experience to watching one, perhaps all, of his flickers. Even more ironic is that these overbearing nerds will pay money to attend art house screenings and talk through the very films they deride the summer blockbuster audiences for avoiding. Perhaps it's not the films the popcorn crowd is ditching, so much as it is them and their Peter Bogdanovich "don't call it an ascot."
Steven Spielberg is spelled A-N-A-T-H-E-M-A in these vicious circles, most likely due to that curious habit his films have for generating emotion and connecting with audiences. Like many of his generation, he was influenced by the groundbreaking French New Wave directors, a group of critics who were so tired of Hollywood product that they followed Gandhi's advice to be the change they wished to see (Gandhi was the Lew Wasserman of soul force) and became filmmakers. Cinephile nerds also regard the works of La Nouvelle Vague, are quick to blurt out the official French pronunciation, and will then, ironically, return to expounding on how tired they are of Hollywood product - but not tired of hearing themselves say as much, or to actually do something about it.
Dress up like your heroes? Check. Obsess about it online, criticizing every decision made regarding them? Check. Flush your money down the toilet "investing" in your fantasy life? Then give yourself a wedgie, doofus, because you just rocketed into Nerdville: population you. Hey. Hey there, guy. Don't cry. When your team loses and you can't function in society for the rest of the day, you're just having an Episode 1.
A subset even more insufferable than these armchair athletes are the bleating announcers and greaseball sports writers who get paid to assault the public into submission over things like guaranteeing 12-year old D'tribble McMillian will skip college and enter the NBA because he's the next Michael Jordan (and that usually ends up being the case... assuming they were referring to when Jordan played baseball), and that all of the off-field rape, murder and animal abuse activities should not detract from the enjoyment and sanctity of the hallowed game.
Science has proven that Beatles fans make people hate the Beatles. At least the guy in the Klingon costume sitting across from you at Denny's never tried to make you feel inferior for not understanding his passion. He was just thinking it. But Beatles fans expect everyone in the world to agree that not even Beethoven, Bach, Freddie Mercury and Mozart could form a better foursome than the lads from Liverpool. Just ask one about Revolver sometime - but pack a lunch first.
One can hear the smug satisfaction oozing through the airwaves as the classic rock DJ gushes, "The White Album. (loooong pause) Wow." Demand among Beatles nerds was such that now the entire episodes of their Ed Sullivan appearances can be purchased, presumably to mock the magicians and plate-spinners for not being with the times they were, um, living in.
Beware, though, when talking to Beatles nerds, as there's a Judas strain running through them. They love John Lennon, but refuse to acknowledge that he could possibly love his wife more than that band he started. "Yoko" isn't a name among Beatles nerds so much as a verb, and a four-letter one at that.
Mop Toppins will deify Lennon as a genius, while simultaneously ignoring his sage comment, "It's only a rock group that split up. It's nothing important." Can God be blasphemous?!!!
Lastly, the only fans more insufferable than Beatles nerds are -
Baby Boomer music critics and the hipsters who love them insist that Dylan is still producing great music. At least Ringo's Octopus' Garden was catchy in a car commercial kind of way, but the sound of Dylan's late-career oeuvre has been consistently that of soiled gym shoes tumbling in the dryer while a fork scrapes across the front panel. The only possible explanation for the affection shown Dylan's new releases is that the triangulation of a soul patch and Buddy Holly glasses affects one's hearing.
Dylan struggled with accepting his own limitations as a singer, and the rest of us have struggled with him. But what makes the Dylan nerds so insufferable is that they're willing to gloss over so many of their man's other lackluster qualities. When Dylan creeps into Woody Allen territory and "purrs" (as the London Times called it) for Alicia Keys on his Modern Times album, his nerds wrote as if she had been anointed from on high, not immortalized as a booty call wish fulfillment. Slate even published an article solely dedicated to Dylan's history of jungle fever - and they don't do that for just anybody.
On that same album, all of the songs are credited to the lone Dylan, though the New York Times reported that some of the lyrics appear to be lifted from Civil War-era poet Henry Timrod, as well as other traditional blues songs, while his previous CD included an alleged lyric lift from the novel Confessions of a Yakuza. His nerds justify the borrowing as part of his creative process and even the Times played down ol' Bob's "magpie tendencies".
In 2011, the Times again reported on Dylan's five-finger compulsion, not for "borrowing and re-appropriating" lyrics that time, but for his paintings on display in Manhattan's Gagosian Gallery, which allegedly bore more than a passing resemblance to photos that “are widely available and were not taken by Mr. Dylan.”
Ironically, Dylan had no such respect for Hootie & The Blowfish when their creative process borrowed some of his lyrics for "Only Want To Be With You". The song, written as a tribute to Dylan, appeared on Cracked Rear View - which became the biggest selling album in the history of Atlantic Records. I don't know what that says for Atlantic Records, but Dylan thought enough of them to sue and reportedly received a large out-of-court settlement, which he apparently used to purchase Henry Timrod poetry books.
(And for those of you who, at the beginning of this piece, immediately corrected the release year for Star Wars to 1977, you're still not as big a nerd as those who immediately posted something about it in the comments section below without bothering to finish reading the rest of this article. Talk about insufferable. Really, it's the kind of competition where there are no winners. Stop. Just stop.)