A Series of Tubes
Geeks cluster online, for sure, but their worldwide destinations run the gamut. If one recent online meme can be said to have transcended genres of geekdom, it could be the LOLCAT. But why let the Internet have all the fun when your very own home or office can become a testament to sentient cats with poor grammar? On icanhascheezburger.com, the LOLCat Mecca, you can buy magnetic poetry sets that include words such as “kitteh,” “caturday,” “intarwebs” and “purrito” so you can create your own LOLCats verses on your refrigerator. That’s right, your tabby, too, can utter the timeless phrase “i can has bukkit?” For further showing off, you can buy I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? A LOLCAT COLLECKSHUN, the coffee-table book (priced right at just around 10 bucks) that includes the 200 favorite captioned feline portraits generated in the site’s storied, nearly two-year (believe it) history.
Elsewhere online, services have cropped up to indulge the quintessentially geeky need to catalogue, tag, archive, and share media and information of all types. The photo site FLICKR, the online book catalog LIBRARYTHING, and the Web diary LIVEJOURNAL all offer paid memberships that provide significant perks to users.
Along the same line, some of the more popular podcasts — or, in the analog world, radio programs — for nerdy types come from National Public Radio. In the NPR ONLINE GIFT SHOP, you can indulge in tote bags, T-shirts, and other merchandise touting support for nerdtastic public- radio programming — after all, who wouldn’t want to sip green tea from his Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! mug?
The things about geeks and toys is that ACTION FIGURES and the like aren’t just playthings; they are enablers for overactive imaginations. They are also probably the best workplace/bookshelf/desktop emblem of a favorite fandom. Marvel Comics or DC? Transformers or GI Joe? Brand new, retro-style, or genuine vintage? So many options, so many possibilities. Remember the scene in Spaceballs where Dark Helmet is caught playing with his “dolls”? Every geek does it. (But please, don’t call them dolls.)
While this particular gift guide isn’t focusing on electronics, video-game fandoms both old and new are well-represented in the toy aisle. But to really get points, go old school. Because, seriously, what’s cooler — a figurine of the latest cloak-and-swagger action hero from Bloodbath IV or a jumbo-size stuffed power-up mushroom from Super Mario Bros.? Relatedly, many Asian-themed stores, as well as outlets such as Newbury Comics, offer a wide selection of Japanese BLIND BOXES, which are various toys packaged in identical boxes so you’re not sure what exactly you’re getting. It could be a tiny, adorable green frog, or it could be a squat, deadly android. Either way, it’s great desk fodder.
But perhaps the ultimate toy indulgence for geeks is LEGO, Denmark’s best export since ham. Whether it’s carefully constructing (and testing) the catapult from a castle-themed set or displaying a foot-tall Batwing from a Batman-branded set, LEGO provides an opportunity for assembly and display — both cornerstones of the geek-toy experience. And 2009 is a landmark date, as Pirate LEGO returns to the scene after a 12-year absence. Yarr!