A geek's guide to the holidays: Gremlins, "Christmas at Ground Zero" and other goodies
Christmas -- or whatever you celebrate this time of year -- is not a geek holiday. Sure, the togetherness and gift-giving and eggnog drunks are great no matter if you're a geek or not, but it still seems like the holiday should throw us some kind of bone. It doesn't, though. There are just no sweet seasonal traditions that appeal to geek sensibilities. You don't even get to dress up, unless you're dressing as Santa,maybe. Geekwise, it's kind of a wash.
That doesn't mean you can't geek up the holidays, though -- and I'm here to help.
Let's start with music. What would Christmas be without Christmas music? Besides infinitely more tolerable, I mean. (If you're one of those people who love straditional Christmas music, I'm very sorry. Hopefully science will come up with a cure soon.) Luckily, no one can resist the temptation to contribute to the ever-growing body of Christmas music, geeks included. That means you can revel in the joy of the season without retreading the same tired bullshit that you've been hearing since you were a kid.
Start with a heaping helping of Jonathan Coulton's "Chiron Beta Prime," a heartwarming tale of one family's Christmas joy as the tortured servants of robots. Throw in Weird Al Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero" to celebrate the Yuletide the way we did when fear of nuclear annihilation at the hands of godless Communists was a holiday tradition. Keep it sexy with They Might Be Giants' "Santa's Beard," which chronicles a steamy love triangle between a man, his girl and Santa himself. Throw in some chiptune renditions of the classics and a few of your favorites from A Nightmare Before Christmas and you've got yourself a pretty good, and damn geeky, Christmas playlist.
Now that the music's squared away, it's time to trim that tree. You could settle for pretending those traditional glass balls are alien planets or spaceships or some bullshit, but there's no reason to half-ass it when there are more geek ornaments available than you can shake a candy cane at. A quick trip to Think Geek reveals Doctor Who, Cthulu and classic video- game controller ornaments. Elsewhere you can find some sweet Star Trek and Star Wars ornaments. Hell, if you want to display your love of the undead and your love of the Denver Broncos, maybe try an officially licensed Broncos zombie ornament.
There's no end to the possibilities, really. Just type your favorite fandom into Google next to the word "ornament" and blammo! Instant geek Christmas! Of course, you could also just keep it cheap and DIY with these sweet Star Wars papercraft snowflake decorations, supposing you're good with the scissors and very, very patient.
Okay, the music's playing and the tree is trimmed in half a dozen different science fiction and fantasy franchises. Now it's time to relax with some classic Christmas movies and television. Sure, a lot of Christmas movies incorporate fantastical elements and thus could be considered geek material, but angels, Santa and flying reindeer just don't get it done. You know what does get it done? Joe Dante's Gremlins, the perfect tale of Christmas joy and murderous, miniature monsters. Did you forget that was a Christmas movie? Well, it is, and a damn fine one, too.
After that's over, fire up the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, a bizarre, candy-colored artifact of early '60s kitsch made watchable by the riffing abilities of Joel and the bots. Then you can come down with classic Christmas episodes of The Twilight Zone ("The Night of the Meek") and Futurama's "Xmas Story," which offer two very different views of Santa.
By now, your holiday should be feeling plenty geeky. The only thing left is some good, geeky loot under the tree. If you need some help there, have no fear. I'll be back next week with a gift guide for that hard-to-please geek in your life.
In the meantime, find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.
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