“Live long and prosper.”
— Mr. Spock, Star Trek
“One ring to rule them all.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
— Kevin Flynn, Tron
— Fred “the Ogre” Palowakski, Revenge of the Nerds
There are two types of people in the world, geeks and, well, everybody else. And easy targets though the hopelessly nerdy may be, the world simply would not be the same without people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t stuff Gates into a locker once in a while, or give Jobs the occasional swirly, right?
Though the relationship between dweebs and “normal” folks is traditionally adversarial, the truth is that almost everyone has an inner geek. For some folks, science-fiction movies, role-playing games or other typical dorky pursuits stiffen up the ol’ pocket protector. For others, the fetish could be music, rotisserie baseball, rare automobiles or wine.
This week, Montpeculiar’s capital of quirk, the Langdon Street Café, celebrates geekdom in all its many-splendored varietals with Geek Week 4.0. The fourth annual festival runs from Wednesday, March 24, to Wednesday, March 31, and features an unprecedented level of shameless dorkery, from ongoing curiosities such as the Ms. Pac-Man tournament, a display of “fictional maps,” a “Phone-tography” exhibit and an arcade-game emulator, to various nightly concerts, seminars and exhibitions.
What follows is a general day-by-day primer on the week to come at LSC. It is necessarily brief and not meant to be comprehensive. And as such, it is inherently non-geeky. Still, it should provide a solid starting point should you quest to Mordor, er, Montpelier. Because, as they say at Geek Week, “Be there and be square.”
Wednesday, March 24: Clique to Load
Opening ceremonies! Events include the first round of the Ms. Pac-Man tourney, a Bananagrams tournament, the Hacker Challenge and the unveiling of the Board Game Shelf — a mammoth collection of unusual board games on loan from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library and available to patrons all week. Rusty Belle’s Matt Lorentz celebrates the release of a new CD by his alter ego/one-man band The Suitcase Junket. Later in the evening, dare to be stupid with the, um, circuit-ous sounds of The Casio Project and 1950s retro-rock revivalists The Born Readys.
Thursday, March 25: Geeks Throughout the Ages
A historical retrospective of geekery. Features modular origami workshops and a game of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition — as if there were any other, obvs — led by dungeon master and Geek Week architect himself, Ben T. Matchstick. Local live electronica outfit Durians provide the experimental electro-acoustic soundscapes for the evening’s proceedings.
Friday, March 26: Flashback Flashdance
Following a two-hour Happy Hour version of café trivia fave Information Overload with Jen Dole, the night belongs to 1980s throwbacks Sputnik! The local New Wave supergroup features the multidimensional musical talents of Noah Hahn, Sara Grace, Jay Ekis and Righteous Babe — and real live g-g-g-girl — Anaïs Mitchell.
Saturday, March 27: Hack the Planet
The main processor on the motherboard that is Geek Week. The day begins with a game of Anarchist Soccer — soccer, minus all the pesky rules — on the Statehouse lawn. Later, back at LSC, take part in a variety of workshops including “Ethical Hackers” with Grep, “Hardware Hacking” with N0izMaker, “Tapeloops” with Nick Painter and “Live Mapping” with Shane Watt.
Saturday is also the main event, musically speaking. Local laptop and vox electro-funk duo Toilet Bugz lead off. Next up is Butterfly Starpower, a local punk trio fronted by a 6-year-old girl. Yes, really. James Kochalka Superstar follows, playing songs from his 2009 album Digital Elf, all of which were created using an 8-bit Game Boy Advance video-game processor.
The synth-pop fun continues as Albany, N.Y.’s, Beware! the Other Head of Science take the stage. Their hometown alt-rag Metroland recently equated the band’s angular electro-rock to “a can of root beer, filled with Pop Rocks, poured down the pants of a hyperactive 7th grader.” Perennial regional algo-rock favorites The Mathematicians close out the night.
Sunday, March 28: Game On!
Spend the day playing a variety of obscure board, role-playing and strategy games including Settlers of Catan, Tikal, Dominion, Agricola and Carcassonne. Spend the evening in awe of mentalist — and spoon bender! — Rory Raven.
Monday, March 29: School (Cool?) Night
So you think you’re a geek? Meet John Cohn, IBM’s chief engineer and one of the most brilliant (and geekiest) minds on the planet. He will blind you with science. Perhaps literally…
Tuesday, March 30: Capes, Tights and Slo-Mo Fights!
Still more D&D fun with Ben T. Matchstick — bring your own 12-sided die. Local hip-hop collective Boomslang drop some science, some knowledge and more than a few beats. Afterward, central VT favorites kuFui jumpstart your synapses. Typically a trio composed of guitarist Jay Ekis, drummer Andy Suits and bassist/composer Jesse Gile, for this special performance the group will feature a horn section to flesh out Gile’s already heady sonic concoctions. Faces will melt.
Wednesday, March 31: Are You Sure You Want to Quit?
Geek Week’s closing ceremonies just happen to coincide with Langdon Street’s monthly local live electronica series Voltaic/Harmonic. This month’s installment features Ben Roy, I Feel Awesome and Stokely Diamantis.