11 Things for Nerds to Be Thankful for This Year


Let’s face it – we like to bitch. It’s not for nothing that Star Trek fans have the original reputation of nit-picking fictional facts – all fandoms like to do it, and the Trekkers were just the most visible ones to do it first and take the hit for the rest of us in the popular mindset.

That’s why I like to take stop and stock of what I’m grateful for every year, but I thought an entire list on my own might come off boring or long-winded. Instead, I have collaborated with many of the other TR writers to come up with something more comprehensive and personal to each. While it’s not a specific item on the list, they epitomize one other thing I am always very thankful for – a staff of freelancers with diverse interests, without whom I would have a ton of extra writing to do each morning, and a site more monolothic and narrowly tailored to only things I know.

Here are eleven things we feel that all nerdkind can be thankful for this year…

11. The Miscellaneous Things.


Well, I’m thankfully I was able to actually attend E3 for the first time in my life this year, which was still a mind-blowing experience for any gamer like me…And able to attend an actual L.A. movie premiere, though I admit the choice in films could have been much, much better. I’m also thankful for the large amount of innovative games both indie & triple-A still coming out…not so much thankful for the fanboys behind the consoles & PCs that play those games, though. You guys can go choke on a wishbone while the rest of us actually try being happy about something. But I’m also thankful for my freelancing job here at TR, Luke & the whole TR community, & for some individual things, I’m thankful for Pacific Rim, Steven Universe, Bob’s Burgers, finally getting a new Sly Cooper game, & Red Vines, because why not. So happy Thanksgiving to you all! (Kyle LeClair)

10. Star Wars: Episode VII.


I remember a time when Star Wars fans united for anything Skywalker-related. This was before the dark times, before the prequels…

Don’t misunderstand, I LOVE the prequels, but that’s a list for another day, a long time ago, in non-cynical galaxy far far way. Still, as fan of Lucas’ universe I’m relieved that many of the haters seem genuinely excited about December 18th, 2015. I’m not completely convinced that J.J. Abrams will knock it out of the park since the second-half disappointment of Into Darkness, but the one thing that the Bad Robot honcho excels at is chemistry with an ensemble cast: which is probably the biggest issue that fans had with the prequels. (Even I didn’t think Portman and Christensen had many sparks.) I hope the rumors are true that the lead with be a female. So yeah, I am truly thankful that the Force might be strong with this one. (Peter Paras)

9. ComiXology.


While I tend to think of digital comics as an evolution rather than a revolution of the medium, they have found a way into my heart thanks to ComiXology. Their affordability and wide selection is enticing enough, but where the app really comes into its own is with its so-called Guided View technology which enhances the reading experience through swift transitions, zooms, panel layering and other innovations that completely recontextualize the comics-reading experience. (Especially on fun titles like Batman ’66, in which Guided View which manages to make the title feel like the show it is based on; no small feat).

Even with Apple’s tone deaf – and seemingly arbitrary – banning of titles from the app, ComiXology is still the best way to read digital comics. ComiXology titles will never replace their printed counterparts for me, but they have gotten me to take notice of another way to enjoy the comics reading pastime I so love, and for that I am truly grateful. (Chris Cummins)

8. Time, Tea and TCM.


At this time of year, nerds should remember to be thankful for Time, over which our social awkwardness gradually begins to seem less creepy and more charming (we hope) and over which our adolescent obsessions sometimes gradually become mainstream cultural icons, making us retroactively seem ahead of the curve. Also, nerds should be thankful for other, more talented and creative nerds, who, in conjunction with Time, bring into existence the technological advances about which we daydreamed as kids. Also, nerds should be thankful for football, which on certain Sundays at certain times of year creates short lines at movie theaters and short waits at Olive Garden.

Also, nerds should be thankful for Snapple Peach Tea, certainly the finest bottled beverage ever devised by humankind, non-alcoholic or otherwise. Also, nerds should be thankful for Turner Classic Movies, which includes horror, sci-fi and fantasy as part of the mix of recognized classics. Just this coming Saturday, for instance, TCM is showing The Time Machine, which, by the way, is about Time, for which, as I mentioned before, and despite its relentless trudge toward the Cosmic Unknown, nerds should nonetheless be thankful. (M.V. Moorhead)

7. Even Our Disappointments Are Kinda Good.


So many TV shows and movies are aimed at nerds these days that a few misfires are inevitable. The interesting thing, though, is that most of these letdowns are only viewed so harshly because there’s better material to compare them to. Take two of the most recently reviled super hero movies – X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern. They aren’t especially awful, just blandly mediocre. It’s only when compared to X-Men 2 or The Dark Knight that they look so bad. Put ’em toe to toe with pretty much anything from the 1990s and we should feel blessed. (Greggory Basore)

6. Tablet Computers.

Virtual Village

I am absolutely lost without my Android tablet. In a typical day I’ll be found writing, reading, watching movies or smashing zombies on it. It’s my constant companion that I feel lost without, kind of like the ’80s My Buddy doll, without the stigma of being a grown man carrying a doll that looks like Chucky. Tablet – you complete me! (Jason Helton)

5. Steam.

Like many nerds, I am far too broke to buy a PS4 or Xbox One (or even a Wii U) this Christmas. But I’m thankful for the Steam Christmas Sale. I don’t exactly have a powerhouse of a PC (I’m like 99% positive I can’t run Assassin’s Creed IV in 1080p), but I could still grab some brand new stuff for pretty cheap (and run it in low graphics mode). The thing that really warms my heart, though, is that I can grab an assload of older or indie games for less than five bucks a pop. (Asher Cantrell)

4. The Collective Wayback Machine.

I’m thankful that we live in a time when so much of our nerdy heritage is available for us to enjoy. The sheer volume of past movies and TV shows that we can now experience – works that once came and went in a flash, never expected to be seen again – is nothing short of amazing. Not all of it is necessarily worth revisiting, of course, but I’m still glad it’s there to be appreciated all the same. (Sherilyn Connelly)

3. Mecca NECA Hi, Mecca Hiney Ho.


The moment I saw Michael Keaton’s Batman costume, I knew I wanted a toy of it, preferably one that was reasonably compatible with my other figures. I knew from ads in the back of magazines that a Batwing, Batmobile, Batcave and three figures were coming…and then they never seemed to. The brand new company Toy Biz didn’t have the means to fill demand, and for something like a year, the only thing on the shelf was Bob, the Joker’s Goon. I even busted out the Super Powers Batman I’d been keeping in package, just because I wanted a Batman to play with.

I think it was two years later when I finally got the Toy Biz Batman movie figure, and many more before Kenner gave us one that looked like Keaton, but didn’t have movie-like armor. They did give us a decent ED-209 – renamed ED-260 for some reason – in the Robocop line, but we’ve been waiting for one in a bigger scale ever since Todd McFarlane busted out the license for Movie Maniacs. I never figured I’d get Gremlins 2 toys and thus was never disappointed, but…just look at that picture above, featuring NECA’s winter offerings. It’s taken 1989 me until now to get what I wanted. And that’s only one year less long than my wife has been alive. (Luke Y. Thompson)

2. The Cinematic Marvel Universe.


I don’t know about the rest of you, but the scene above was what did it for me. That moment of being in a theater, and realizing, “Holy shit, that’s Thor fighting Iron Man and Captain America – and it doesn’t look stupid! It’s actually not sucking! Go movie!”

I can’t say I was necessarily a huge fan of every single Marvel film thus far, but the combination of shared universe and more fealty to source material than most adaptations get is unprecedented. If I may bring up 1989 again, go watch something like The Return of Swamp Thing to see just how much things have changed for the better.

In the interests of staying thankful and positive, I shall not mention their top competitor. (Luke Y. Thompson)

1. The Community.

Are any of you old enough to remember having to explain who Boba Fett was? Or that a “lightsaber” is “that laser-sword thing they use in Star Wars“? Did you go through high school thinking you were the only person in the world who knew Bruce Campbell’s name? Did you ever half-remember some TV show from your childhood but have no way of knowing how to find out more about it, or share any of its amazing qualities with another soul?

What was once our secret and lonely language is now THE language. Where once we desperately wanted to be the cool kids, the cool kids now aspire to be us. Those days of feeling all alone in a small town are now permanently replaced by in-home connections to the world.

I spend more time each day with you – many of whose real names I know, many I don’t – than I do with friends or family that I know in person. And yet if anyone from thirty years ago were to casually observe me, they’d say I were some loner holed up in a room full of toys with a computer game, rather than a moderator/participant in constant conversations about everything I like.

The community is bigger than Topless Robot. But I’m extremely thankful for our part in it, and to Rob Bricken and Billy Jensen for giving us this platform first.

And yes, I know some of the other people further down the list kinda said something like that already. I’ll just say I’m thankful they think like I do. Now, let’s all go party.

(Luke Y. Thompson)