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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

what is your geek idiosyncrasy?


I have only recently made a discovery about myself.

It’s like this. Obviously, I have been going to the movies multiple times per week for many years. But this past year has been the first time since I can remember when I have not one but two nice multiplexes a short walk away. So when I haven’t been able to get to an advance press screening (or wasn’t invited), I can take a nice stroll and catch the film nearby on opening day.

The discovery I made: I am incapable of showing up later than the posted start time. Even when I don’t need to leave extra travel time to allow for the vagaries of public transit (which I always do). Even when I know I won’t have any trouble getting a seat (at weekday afternoon showings I am often the only one in the cinema). Even when I know there will be 20 minutes of idiotic commercials before the movie actually starts. Even when I know I’ll have to sit through that same hideous Kevin Bacon ad for EE (a mobile phone provider) for the 100th time. This is the short version:

(The long one is worse. Imagine it on a big screen with sound you cannot escape. My embarrassment for Bacon has long since given way to teeth-grinding annoyance.)

I could, theoretically, leave my house at the posted start time and still be assured of not missing a single moment of the movie. So why can’t I do that? I think, maybe, I have a fear that the first time I do that, that will be the day when the multiplexes decide to stop showing all those ads and just jump right to the movie.

Anyway, in the name of my own sanity, I am now referring to this odd trait of mine as a geek idiosyncrasy, rather than a sign of impending mental breakdown.

What is your geek idiosyncrasy? Go on — your secret is safe with us.

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

  • Stephanie C.

    when it comes to movies, my problem is that I *cannot* seem to go to them alone. I mean, I have no problems watching movies alone; Netflix says I’ve watched 6 of them in the last 3 days (Chasing Amy, The Kids are All Right, Grease, Saved! Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and Christopher and His Kind. which in retrospect makes it likely I am a gay atheist man, only one of which is true). I’ve also watched the entire first two seasons of Cake Boss, to cement that.

    However, if I go to the movies alone, I get twitchy. Not for the usual reasons. But see…I am a *huge* 2000 A.D. fan (that british comic). And in 1995, I hauled myself off to a theatre to see Judge Dredd. I was REALLY looking forward to it. I expected a Stallone film, mind. But that…was…horrible.

    Standing on the street waiting for the bus afterwards, I highly suspect that I sounded like an insane person. I tried to behave myself, but I *ranted* under my breath for about 20 minutes while I waited. I was SO INCREDIBLY PISSED OFF. It was 1995, and I had USENET access, the first public web servers and the HTTP protocol would not be live for a few months. I could rant a *little*, but I could not go home and find the other half million people pissed off about the movie.

    Sometimes I can steel myself and drag myself into a theatre. It’s easier for things like The Muppet Movie Singalongs the local art theatre has; even if I don’t know anyone there, in a way I know everyone there, you know?

    But it’s *really* hard for me to go see an unproven movie now without people, especially ones based on properties I’ve loved in case I need to rant. I have seen none of the X-Men movies. I have ‘Dredd’ in my Netflix list, but have been unable to bring myself to give it a whirl, though fellow fans say it’s much better.

    my other big geek idiosyncrasy is a loathe filk. I get actively angry at people who filk in my direction.

  • Danielm80

    I have trouble watching shows like Seinfeld and Two and a Half Men and Family Guy where the characters are selfish and mean for no good reason. I’m perfectly happy to watch a show like Breaking Bad or House, M.D., where the whole point of the show is to explore why the character is selfish and mean, and what that says about our society. But when the characters treat each other badly just because the writers think it’s funny, or because “that’s human nature,” I tend to stop watching, even if the show is very well-written.

  • amanohyo

    Over the last twenty years, I have perfected my OCD moviegoing ritual:
    1) I will not set foot inside a movie theater unless it is playing at least three movies that I want to see, ideally four, that can be watched in sequence without waiting more than twenty minutes between each film.
    2) I prefer watching movies at the theater alone, but will watch them with another person provided they are willing to sit through at least two films.
    3) I will not pay more than matinee price or buy any concessions. I must subsist solely on a courtesy cup of tap water and a smuggled granola bar.
    4) I must bring a book to read between movies, typically Return of the Native or A Room of One’s Own. I will never read a book (in or outside of a theater) if the font size of the author’s name on the cover is larger than the font size of the title.
    5) The initial movie in the series that I pay to see must be the one that has the smallest box office potential or a movie that has a female director and/or screenwriter.
    6) When I theater hop to the subsequent movies, I sit in the worst seat possible, usually the front left corner, to avoid blocking the view of paying customers.
    7) I close my eyes and rest them during the commericials and trailers.
    8) I watch the entire credits sequence unless I have company (one of the many reasons I prefer being alone at the theater).
    9) I pick up at least one piece of trash that isn’t mine on the way out and dispose of it properly.
    10) I wait at least a day to evaluate the quality of a movie, and if I really enjoy a movie, I stay in the same theater and watch it a second time to see if it holds up to two consecutive viewings.
    In my 20’s, I used to dedicate three days a week to this process, but my free time is more limited now. I still do it once every two months or so – it takes a while before a theater is running three movies I want to see these days. The library eventually gets most of the movies I miss at the theater.

  • Huh. I just thought any true lover of movies was like that. I can’t stand people showing up after the start time. I generally try and show up a 1/2 hour before. Maybe a little less if I know it won’t be crowded. NEVER after the start time. The very thought is appalling.

    For many years I never, ever went to see a movies alone. The very thought just skeezed me out. I finally did it to see The Dark Knight Rises because my wife had no interest. It felt weird. Like everyone was looking at me. I haven’t done it again since. I’m happy my son is 12 now, because I get to see all the comic and other such movies with him. My wife has no interest. Poor woman.
    I will do my darndest to avoid watching anything about a movie I’m interested in outside of a trailer. And I’ll only watch that once, unless I’m forced to in a theater. I want to know as little about a movie as possible before seeing it. No actor interviews, no making-ofs, nothing. I haven’t watched a single one of Peter Jacksons videos for The Hobbit films. I just feel like all that stuff takes you out of the world of the movie. Heck, I rarely even watch those things after I see the film.

  • RogerBW

    Yes; in the early days of DVDs I’d occasionally watch the extras, but I’ve pretty much given up on it now. After MaryAnn’s question about trailers recently, I started subscribing to some trailer channels on YouTube, and they seem to be willing for a big film to have two or three trailers, five or six other clips, and various interviews with cast and crew — but really, I don’t want to see any of that stuff before the film except the trailer itself, and sometimes not even that. And not usually afterwards either.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I too arrive to movies at least 5 minutes, and preferably closer to 30, before the posted start time. But I don’t actually mind the “pre-show” stuff. In fact, I kinda look forward to when it changes. Also, most of the time between the posted start time and the beginning of the first reel, which is closer to 10 minutes here, is trailers. And there are never enough trailers.

    I used to never buy concessions, but then I did more reading on the economics of running a movie theater*, so now I always buy a giant soda**, partly out of a feeling of obligation.

    I prefer to stay for the closing credits, but I have no idea why.

    * including Ebert’s observation, “Those of us who purchase concessions are subsidizing those of you who don’t.”

    ** Sodas and popcorn are the concession stands highest profit margin. But I hate popcorn. Also, I do sneak in candy, now that most grocery stores in Colorado sell those “movie theater boxes” for a buck.

  • Does it have to be just films?

    When I played Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, if the game menu had an option screen, I would go to it and play through all the sound effects and pieces of music. Why did I do this? In case I wasn’t good enough to finish the game and thus not hear all of them, I would at least get my money’s worth out of the game, aurally, if not visually.

    I too love staying for the credits of a film. These days, you never know if there might be a scene afterwards but even if there isn’t, I enjoy listening to the music and I figure I paid for the whole film and that includes the credits. If I have to wait several minutes for the movie to start then they can wait minutes for the film to end before they get me out of my seat.

  • RogerBW

    I was brought up to regard staying for the credits as a gesture of respect to the people who worked on the film.

  • Bluejay

    my other big geek idiosyncrasy is a loathe filk. I get actively angry at people who filk in my direction.

    I had to look up “filk” and, uh, I’m still confused. Could you explain more, please? I’m hoping you don’t mean definitions 3, 4, or 5.

  • Anne-Kari

    I’m your opposite! I love going to movies alone, in fact, I vastly prefer it to going with other people! And when watching a movie at home, I prefer watching with other people. I think that on the whole, you are far more normal than I.

    As for filking, I don’t hate it but I always feel embarrassed for people who insist on it.

  • Anne-Kari

    Heh. I’m pretty sure she means definition 1. Or at least, I hope so :)

  • Bluejay

    I always thought it was just common sense to try to arrive early to a movie (about a half-hour preferably), because then I have a better chance of getting exactly the seat I want. I like sitting in the middle, close enough to the screen to appreciate the “big-screen experience” but far enough so that I can still take in the whole screen without sweeping my eyes all around or swiveling my neck. I don’t really get the people who come into an uncrowded theater with plenty of seats in the middle, but still choose to sit in the first three rows. I’d just be overwhelmed.

    I don’t know if this counts as an idiosyncrasy, but I have a Pavlovian relationship with the Universal Pictures logo — the one with the blaring fanfare as the giant word “UNIVERSAL” rises over the Earth. When I was binge-watching Battlestar Galactica on DVD, every single episode started with that logo, and then as soon as the chilling piano notes of the BSG prologue started, I’d get sweaty palms and an accelerated heart rate in anticipation of the action and suspense and plot twists. Usually I’d have to pause and go to the bathroom. Soon it didn’t have to be the BSG theme, just the Universal logo. And now every time that damn logo shows up — on DVD or in the theater, for whatever genre of film — I tense up and feel like I need to take a bathroom break.

    Maybe that’s TMI. :-)

  • Yeah, I was wondering about that, too. Even definition #1 doesn’t match up with what she said. How does one “filk” in your direction?

  • I’m all for staying for the credits, but my wife hops right up and wants to go. She’s a very impatient person, and not the best movie-going companion.

    Even at home I’ll leave the credits going and she’ll look at me like I have 2 heads.

    Then she never even wants to talk about the movie! *sighs*

  • Stephanie C.

    have you ever gone to a science fiction convention?

  • Sadly, no I haven’t.

  • Stephanie C.

    that makes it harder to explain exactly what it means when someone filks at you. Filk is, indeed, fannish folk music. The problem is there is a type of filk fan who doesn’t just love filk…they seem completely unable to understand that it’s not other people’s kink. They *will* sing at you. They will burst out into The Hero of Canton or something even more obscure when they’re in a long line to kill the time. They will start filksings in public areas where people are trying to talk.

    Like many other things (Weird Al, the fact that something has numbers and a dial so it might go up to 11, Monty Python, the Billy Crystal parts of The Princess Bride), things that are enjoyable in small bits are not enjoyable over and over and fucking over again, There are people who, even though there are areas set up at most local cons to contain the filkers, will wander around dressed like a bard with a guitar on their back and start singing.

    I like music, btw. But I am a ska/punk/grunge/indie rock type. I like Jonathan Coulton. I like MC Frontalot and the nerdcore/geekcore stuff. I like bands like Freezepop and I like 8-bit. And every year I go to the concerts at PAX alone because none of my friends really care a bit. I’m ok with that. Many Filkers seem convinced that someday they’ll finally manage to change my mind; they’ll find THE SONG and I will see the errors of my ways. I find it, as I find most evangelists, profoundly irritating.

  • LaSargenta

    Gah. I just went and read the wikipaedia entry about it…didn’t know about that. I think I’m with you. And I write that as someone who both still goes into the pit at hardcore shows *and* religiously attends the Hudson River Clearwater Festival every single year.

    So, now I can say that I, too, really loathe being filked at.

  • Froborr

    I also view staying for the credits as a gesture of respect. Also, as a writer, I find it invaluable as a source for truly delightful names like Comrie Xiodiran or Greg Killmaster.

  • RogerBW

    My favourite credits name is Elvis Strange.

  • Danielm80

    I like Moon Bloodgood. It makes me happy that someone exists in the world with that name. I was oddly disappointed when she started to become famous, because the name doesn’t seem quite as exotic or surprising.

    I stay till the end of the credits because that’s when they list all the songs on the soundtrack. Also, I’ve had to deal with too many pushy theatre employees who try to rush everyone out before the next showing, no matter how long a wait there is before the screening starts.

  • Froborr

    I’m not sure if this counts as a “geek idiosyncrasy,” but I have a deep love for watching other people watch my favorite movies/shows or play my favorite games. It’s like I get to vicariously experience my first time all over again, plus I get new perspectives.

  • singlestick

    When I went to see Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence” (for the second time), I wanted a seat middle row, middle aisle, so I could best enjoy the cinematography. When I got inside, the middle seats, even in adjacent rows were all taken. I had to ask for a refund.

    I know some people who actually enjoy sitting in the front rows closest to the screen (most recently for “Gravity”). I have never sat in any of these seats by choice for as long as I have been going to the movies.

    On the other hand, I almost always have to have buttered popcorn and a hot dog. Even for the most arty film, I enjoy my movie junk food indulgence. And yes, I have a list of the theaters that use real butter, rather than butter flavored oil and other crimes against junk food nature.

  • singlestick

    I avoid most trailers because the marketing departments insist on revealing everything about the film. “The Dallas Buyers Club” is the most recent example. There may be much more to the film, but the trailer reveals a couple of crucial developments. Pointlessly.

    And then there is the thing where some people insist on spoiling a film, sometimes a film they love, sometimes with what seems to be clear malice. For this reason, I will try to see the films I am most interested in during the first week, just as a defensive move.

    I love the extras in something like the Criterion Collection DVDS, because they are often critically and historically informative. The extras for most (not all) other DVDs seem to be marketing puffery or the actors all just talking about what a great time they had making the movie. There are a lot of exceptions to this, but you gotta wade through a lot of nonsense to get to the good stuff.

  • beccity98

    I like reading all the IMDB trivia for a movie or show. I like when AMC does its kind of popup trivia thing for movies, though It makes it a little difficult for me since, if it’s a movie I’ve seen before, I mostly just listen to it while I do some crafting.

    I also like to read the snarkiness of the recaps on Television without Pity. I don’t read them for every episode of every tv show I watch, but sometimes if I find something funny (especially a kind of inside joke for the show) or something ridiculous, I like to go there to see if anyone else caught it. Plus some of their recappers are hilarious.

    But I don’t think I have something I need to do for a movie or show.

    Oh, yes I do. My hubs and I rarely see movies in the theater, but when we do, I bring my own snacks in a purse I use only for going to the movies, and I bring a giant sweatshirt-jacket to use as a blanket-theaters are cold!

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