Category Archives: Nerd Culture

The 8 Best (Non-Sparkly) Vampires

Vampires have gotten a seriously bad rap lately. When Twilight became a tween sensation, it almost turned the entire supernatural genre into an extension of the romance genre. Tsk, tsk. Bad Twilight. Let’s remember all of those fantastic vampires that kick ass and do something other than pine for Bella!

angel 1. Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping…waiting…and though unwanted…unbidden…it will stir…open its jaws, and howl. It speaks to us…guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey.”

Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and later his own spinoff) gets the Number 1 spot because of David Boreanaz’s major skills at being both psychotically evil and a wonderful, brooding boyfriend. Both were insanely convincing! From helping Buffy and saving her friends, to tormenting Buffy to the edge of insanity, Angel does it all and makes it look good.

simonlewis 2. Simon Lewis, The Mortal Instruments: “Well, when a mommy vampire and a daddy vampire love each other very much…”

Simon from The Mortal Instruments book series (and the one movie) earns his spot on the list by being the Daylighter. (Sorry Vampire Diaries, Simon can walk in the sun without a ring.) He gives up his immortality and his memories to save his friends, and he always injects some much needed humor into the group. Throughout the series, he’s a human, a vampire, a ladykiller, and eventually, a shadowhunter. Also, if Isabelle Lightwood wants to date him, how can he not make the top of the list? (The new Shadowhunters tv show will begin airing on ABC Family in 2016!)

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3. Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries: “Everyone needs to stop kissing me!”

Caroline starts out as a prissy, uptight cheerleader who gets in the way and acts as a compelled toy for Damon. Just a little way into The Vampire Diaries‘ long run, Caroline somehow becomes a vampire badass. She’s smart, funny, strong-willed and an integral member of the team.

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4. Drusilla, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “I can see [the stars]. But I’ve named them all the same name, and there’s terrible confusion.”

Who doesn’t miss this insane, doll-carrying, slightly psychic vamp from the early years of Buffy? Spike and Dru were the perfect bad guys: psychotic murderers and crazy in love. But Drusilla’s unique abilities to have no idea what’s going on right in front of her, but still be a lethal threat, makes her rank above Spike.

The Vampire Diaries Pictured: Ian Somerhalder as Damon Photo Credit: Art Streiber / The CW © 2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

5. Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries: “I do believe in killing the messenger. Know why? It sends a message.”

The Vampire Diaries‘ Damon has an excellent character arc showing his transition from a chaos-loving, revenge-obsessed torturer to a semi-productive member of society. He’s a veritable seven layer dip of emotions, regularly murdering people in fits of rage. However, he prioritizes his family and friends and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty to save them.

minaharker6. Mina Harker, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: “You’re sweet… and you’re young. Neither are traits that I hold in high regard.”

From the very first vampire story, Mina Harker is the lead female character of the original Dracula novel. Harker shows up in a lot of vampire stories, but I am a particularly big fan of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Harker is the only woman welcomed into the Gentlemen’s league. Even though many don’t want her there, she saves the day repeatedly.

ca. 1998 --- Actor James Marsters --- Image by © Stephen Danelian/CORBIS OUTLINE

7. Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.”

Oh, Spike. Who can say no to that face? Even with the bleached ’90s Buffy hair. The original ‘bad boy gone good’ vampire tale (Sorry Damon), Spike is only low on the list because compared to Angel and Drusilla (both from Buffy as well), Spike is the less unique character. However, Spike avoided being a one-trick pony with his impressive transition throughout the series. Thank you Joss Whedon for making it feel believable that the evil baddie from Season 2 could somehow become a love interest only three years later.

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8. Selene, Underworld: Tanis: You don’t scare me, Selene. Selene: Well, we’ll have to work on that.

Selene from Underworld is a vampire Death Dealer, working for her vampire clan as an assassin. She is fighting in the war between vampires and lycans and wants to eliminate the lycan race. Ice cold with deadly skills, Selene doesn’t show much of herself to anyone until Michael Corvin comes along, a human. Suddenly, her priorities change. Selene is killer to watch on screen as she pulls off crazy stunts to save Michael.

Obsessions: A History

I’m so obsessed with Reign, the Mary Queen of Scots drama on the CW. Like SOOOOOO unhealthily obsessed. I love it. I can’t get enough. I just recently discovered it, and I DEVOURED both seasons. Now I have to wait 3 months until Season 3! I can’t stand it. But it got me thinking about some of the strange, all-consuming obsessions that I’ve had in my life. Here they are:

1. Green Day

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This was a die-hard obsession of my 8th and 9th grade years. I wore WAY too much eye makeup and black nail polish. Listening to such angry music all the time made me kind of hate my (very good) life! I figured that out eventually, but I still nurse a little crush on Billy Joe Armstrong.

2. Veganism

My junior year of high school through my freshman year of college, I was obsessed with all things vegan. I read a massive number of books and got really into cooking elaborate vegan recipes. I stayed vegan until my senior year of college, when I studied abroad in Italy, and was left with no choice but to consume mass amounts of gelato.

3. Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra

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BEST SHOW EVER! I don’t know if this obsession really ever died, but the first time I saw  it, I skipped class to finish the final season with my roommate! We could not turn it off and ended up attempting to beatbox the end credits after each episode.

4. Greek Mythology

In 6th grade, I was introduced to the world of Greek mythology and I immediately fell in love with the archetype characters. I quickly began constructing my own stories using the gods and goddesses as characters! This obsession faded into obscurity for a while, but last year when I read Goddesses in Everywoman, the obsession was unleashed again! Now, I find myself thinking “she’s such an Athena” on a regular basis.

5. Harry Potter

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Who wasn’t obsessed with Harry Potter at some point? But for me, this is a lifelong obsession that continues on. I am a 23-year-old woman who goes on Pottermore. I have -yikes- 4 pieces of Harry Potter art hanging in my apartment. (In my defense, though, I have several gallery walls worth of art.) I also love listening to the Harry Potter audio books when I’m driving between San Francisco and Los Angeles alone. The 5 hours fly by. That’s only like 1/3 of Goblet of Fire!

6. Red Hair

When I was little, I had a red-headed Barbie named Courtney. And the obsession was born. Later, Satine from Moulin Rouge fed my love of red hair.  Needless to say, I have been a red-head since my Dad gave me permission in high school to die my hair.

7. Buffy

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I resisted Buffy for a long time. I’ve devoured every other Joss Whedon show, but I was nervous about Buffy’s cheesy ’90s special effects. Boy, did I get over that fast! The first time I watched Buffy, I would get off of work and calculate exactly how many episodes I had time to watch before I had to go to bed. It made me want to start wearing cross necklaces, and I finally understood the strong and silent type. Hello, Angel!

Those are my craziest obsessions. What have your greatest obsessions been?

How to Become a Superhero

Raj: “You’re so arrogant! If you were a superhero, your name would be Captain Arrogant. And you know what your superpower would be? Arrogance.”

Sheldon: “You’re wrong again. If my superpower were arrogance, my name would be Dr. Arroganto.” – The Big Bang Theory

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy a monstrous success. The Thor franchise and Batman franchise are doing as well as ever. And with the immediate success of Gotham, the superhero must be feeling pretty good about himself these days. With the superhero owning popular culture and with Halloween around the corner, it got me wondering: what makes a superhero a superhero?

There are many traits that define the majority of superheroes. Whether from another planet or formerly regular humans, superheroes generally have a tragic past. Filled with accident and incident, superheroes suffer from all kinds of complexes due to death and tragedy in their youth. Spiderman, for instance, realizes his responsibility after the death of his Uncle Ben. The phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” was then coined and has now become just as famous as Spiderman himself. This is another important superhero feature: the moral code. Superheroes fixate on their moral code and often constantly focus on saving their city over saving themselves.

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All superheroes of course have some form of powers through massive amounts of money and technology (Ironman, Batman), a scientific accident (Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Catwoman), or alien powers from another species (Superman, Green Lantern, Thor). These powers usually capture the attention of the damsel in distress, winning the superhero a girlfriend. This girlfriend sometimes isn’t aware of who the superhero really is. This is because the superhero has a secret identity. Bruce Wayne, the rich magnate of Wayne Manor, becomes Batman, the Dark Knight and vigilante hero of Gotham City.

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So how do superheroes keep their secret identities?

The Costume

Let me first say that not all costumes are meant to protect the superhero’s identity. A few superheroes don’t bother to keep their identities a secret. However, most superheroes employ secret identities to keep themselves, their friends, and families safe from the villains or, in Spiderman’s case, the police.

Almost all superheroes have spandex outfits. This is supposedly for maximum freedom of movement. They need to run, climb, and jump however is necessary. Female superheroes such as Catwoman and Wonder Woman have costumes that are very sexy and leave little to the imagination. Male superheroes tend to have costumes that show off their bulging muscles.

 
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Superheroes are all supposed to be sexy. Yet, how is underwear over your pants sexy? For a long time, no one seemed to know the answer, only that Superman and Batman had always been that way. This part of the superhero world has been widely mocked for years. My personal favorite example of this is the 1990s cartoon Doug, where the titular character dresses as Quailman, tighty-whities over cargo shorts and all. Recently, the Huffington Post suggested that early color printing techniques of the 1930s and 1940s offered a blurriness problem that often resulted in the characters’ figures being unclear. If Superman did not have red to distinguish from the blue, he may have appeared to have nothing there. Any black definition in that area would have likely been deemed offensive at that time. Today, as printing technology has become much better, some comics have moved away from the look. However, some traditions die hard when it comes to the fans. 

As Halloween approaches, the streets will run rampant with fans-turned-superheroes. Let’s discuss the average human’s superhero costume options that aren’t made from some kind of Kryptonian fabric.

  1.     The Lazy Superhero Costume

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Thinkgeek, a wonderful website for the nerd in all of us, has devised Halloween costumes for the laziest superhero-loving men and women out there, who perhaps like Halloween and like to dress up, but don’t have any particular time or money for an elaborate costume. Throw on this caped tank top or a sweatshirt: voila, instant superhero!

  1.     The Handmade Superhero Costume

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Oh, the handmade costume. This can range widely from Comic-Con sewing masters who spend months handcrafting amazing costumes or as a t-shirt with a cut-out batman symbol sewn to it and a mask made from a paper plate. More labor intensive and less appreciated than other costume options, the handmade costume is the unsung hero. This photo from Raising Hope is of Jimmy, who dresses as a homemade, last-minute Batman to impress the girl of his dreams, who dressed as Robin. (Women often gender-bend to play their favorite superheroes on TV and film. Men dressing as female superheroes is less common, but not unheard of.) Sabrina’s boyfriend Wyatt showed up in a different take on Batman. He went with the “Expensive but still Cheaply Made Costume.”

  1.     The Expensive, But Still Cheaply Made, Costume

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Everyone at one point or another has stood in a costume shop and ogled the insane price of a simple, polyester costume.  Some costume shop costumes can be more elaborate, seen above, with fake pectorals and all. But for one night, I never seem to think spending too much is worth it. That’s probably why I usually laze out and just buy some cat ears, put on a red dress, and call myself Hello Kitty.

This Halloween, celebrate the strangle-hold superheroes have on pop culture. Take any route you choose to be your favorite superhero! Just please, no tighty-whities over your pants. Unless you’re going as Quailman, that is.