Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells… What Did Santa Bring Me For Christmas?

I’ve had a nice, quiet few days, spent with family and friends. The food and booze have been flowing thick and fast, and I feel like an overstuffed turkey right now. I’ve put on a few pounds, as is usual at this time of year, and now I have to spend the next couple of months exercising and cutting back on the eating, so I can get rid of the weight that I’ve put on over a few short days. It’s always a heckuva lot easier to put it on than it is to get it off again.

So what did Santa bring me for Christmas? Well, I’m waiting until the New Year to get the expensive stuff – I’ve got my eye on a nice 10 inch tablet computer and a 27 inch flatscreen monitor for my desktop – so this year’s Christmas haul is pretty much made up of lots of small things, mostly books and DVDs.

DVDs:

  • Kick-Ass
  • X-Men: First Class
  • District 9
  • Prometheus
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists (animated film by the creators of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit)
  • Hanna Barbera 4 DVD Bumper Pack (Box Set containing Dastardly & Muttley Vol. 1, Wacky Races Vol. 1, Top Cat Vol. 1 and Hong Kong Phooey Vol. 1)

BOOKs:

  • Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (prequel to Ringworld) [hardback]
  • Doctor Who – The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock [hardback]
  • Space (MK/Miles Kelly book of facts and information about space)
  • Painting Box Learn to Paint Landscapes & Figures (box set of two practical painting books)
  • Paint & Paper – A Masterclass in Colour and Light by David Oliver (large oversized hardback)
  • Ultimate Creative Crafts – Step-by-step instructions for over 70 creative crafts projects

That’s quite a nice haul of Christmas presents, if I do say so myself. It’s going to take me a while going through this lot. 🙂

It’s a Geek’s Life… (Part Three)

This one has been a long time coming. But better late than never, I suppose…

The Barren Years – The Near-Death of Geekery During the Eighties

All throughout the first half of the 1970’s, I was in geek heaven, having seemingly unlimited time to spend on my obsessions with comics, sf literature, telefantasy and sci-fi films. But by 1977-78, things began to change considerably.

I began my A-Levels at college in September 1977, two years of brutal, non-stop studying, followed immediately by another four years of more of the same as I pursued an Honours degree at university. This intensive studying at college and university during the 1977-83 timeframe drastically curtailed my free time. Except for a few short weeks over the summer breaks, I had no free time at all.

Added to this, there was the rapidly declining health of my father and the ever-growing responsibilities that I had looking after both him and my disabled brother. My father was being increasingly crippled by severe rheumatoid arthritis and other debilitating health problems, and within a few short years, by the time I was in my first year at university, he was a wheelchair-bound invalid. I was now responsible not only for looking after two disabled adults, but for also somehow trying to miraculously find the time to study for an Honours degree as well.

The result of all this was that my geek hobbies pretty much died in the early Eighties, or were put on life support for quite a few years, at the very least. This prolonged period of sheer, relentless drudgery totally broke two out of three of my longest-standing geek hobbies – reading comics and SF literature. Only the sci-fi television and film obsession escaped relatively unscathed, and my sci-fi TV and film watching habit has remained relatively constant over the years.

It took me a long time to recover from those years, particularly when it came to reading SF. Sure, I still read a fair bit of SF today, but, even now, my SF reading habit hasn’t quite recovered to its former frequency, and is certainly nowhere near the obsessive marathon levels it had been at during my teens. Unlike back then, I rarely read novels at all these days, although I still read short fiction regularly.

As for comics, I actually gave up reading them altogether for a full decade, from 1982-1991. I came back to them sporadically from 1991-1997, but I only really became a serious comics collector again from about late-1997 onwards. However, the good news is that my comics reading habit has actually grown again in recent years to a level that surpasses even what it was back in my teens.

I’m still a hardcore geek, and always will be. But those dark years back at the end of the 1970’s and during most of the 1980’s almost totally ruined it for me on a permanent basis. Luckily I’ve now pretty much fully recovered most of my geek cred and activities. Mostly.

But as much fun as being a geek still is today, the one thing that I can regretfully never rediscover is that wide-eyed innocence, enthusiasm and sense of sheer joy that I experienced way back in my early teens, when I first became a serious geek. It’s like being a virgin. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. 🙂

It’s all just not quite as wondrous and pure any more when you’re a middle-aged cynic. 🙂