Nerds Inherit LA Times Festival of Books!

Along with getting 5 feet from Julie Andrews, Betty White and being in close vicinity of Anne Rice and  The Mystery Machine (oh, yeah!) at the Festival of Books on the USC campus this past weekend, I must say the highlight for me was a completely spur-of-the-moment trip to the Ladies Room! Let me explain…..

I was walking aimlessly looking for a restroom, and a volunteer directed me towards The Bovard Auditorium. Once inside, I saw several were gathering for a pane. The house was not filled, so I decided to take a seat, having no idea who was about to speak. Shortly after, Amber Benson of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, took the stage (score!) as moderator to the guest speakers: Sci Fi writer/columnist, John Scalzi, young adult writer, Maureen Johnson and TV Writer, Author and Actress, Pamela Ribon (aka–the Pop Culture Princess).

Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth

The panel was “Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth” and during their time on stage, the trio discussed their backgrounds and just what it means to be a nerd. Is there a difference from nerd, geek and dork? (Not really, we love ’em all), hipster vs. nerd (hipsters apparently care more about what’s in and who is cool. Nerds don’t give a sh*t).

A great discussion arose with a question from an audience member; how do the ‘true’ nerds and comic lovers feel about the action heroes being brought to life for all to enjoy by Hollywood? Scalzi was very welcoming. He thinks it’s great to get more ‘members’ so to speak, in the land of nerds. The more the merrier, and it’s great when a film can spark a new interest in people.

I really felt at home among this crew! Although I admit I am not a comic book reader, Star Wars addict or Star Trekie (yet some of their references were not lost on me, as I always seem to surround myself with nerds and love the Big Bang Theory), I have my own ‘nerd out’ obsessions, and could relate to the struggles to find their place in the world among the cool & the hip.

Read all About It

Pamela’s background struck closest to home with mine as she recalled starting her own newspaper when she was young; complete with a comics section and the cover story what Mom made for dinner. Growing up, I was the Editor in Chief of my own ‘publication’ covering the life and times of my stuffed animals. She went on to have a laugh over the arrival of TV Guide every week when she was little. Highlighting in marker what was on, making a spreadsheet for the movies she had to watch. If she is truly a nerd, I bet she is only half joking since I was brought up the same way! So, hearing a successful writer speak of a similar youth made me smile.

They laughed over the nerd freak out when one discovers another’s similar interests. This is something I feel when someone mentions Tori Amos or Broadway musicals. When asked what they currently are ‘nerding out’ over, I enjoyed John’s explanation about the ukulele, which he just got for Athena, his daughter. They even went instrument shopping at a the Folk Music Center in Claremont I grew up going to with my dad as well.

Passionate Nerds

When Maureen Johnson explained she has trouble going on vacation, feeling she does not know how since she always is writing, I was struck at how true to her passion she must be. How fantastic that is. That is not a nerd, I think, but someone following their bliss.

I thought Amber was making a joke when she said Maureen has won the award for Most Interesting User to Follow on Twitter, but, no! Mashable, the largest independent web-site that covers social media, DID indeed choose her as just that in 2009. Maureen was super funny and had great banter with John and Pamela. She has written several YA books and I am now interested to check out her Suite Scarlett and its sequels. The series focuses on a teenager in New York amidst all the theatre drama of the city.

Pamela Ribon is not only a talented screenwriter, actress and author, but also an amazing fundraiser for her charity. The Dewey Donation System helps organize book drives and raise money for schools and libraries to acquire new books to fill their shelves. She’s also helped overseas and during Hurricane Katrina.

Red Shirts Take Over

Looking over John’s site, I feel ashamed I had not heard of him prior to yesterday! John Scalzi’s book, the Last Colony is a New York Times Best Seller. While his Old Man’s War is being made into a film. He has served as President for The Sci Fi and Fantasy Writers of America as well as serving as Toastmaster in the up-coming World Sci-Fi convention in Chicago.

One of the funniest moments had to be after a fan gave John gingerbread man cookies with the ‘men’ wearing a red shirt. Amber and Maureen teased they would share a cookie, breaking off a head and leg, while hoping they weren’t poisonous. Amber was quiet for a little after. Her comeback being, “Hmm, I am feeling whoozy after eating head”–the entire crowd was silent for a second, then roared for minutes in laughter. I nearly cried I was cracking up so hard!

Stand up for Yourself

The most poignant and significant moment had to be when John answered another question from the audience. A girl referenced all the disturbing coverage about bullying in the news. How does one stick to being themselves and making it through high school?

He mentioned Athena, his 13 yr old daughter. His advice to her is if you’re being bullied, you go to your teacher. If they do nothing, go to the principal. If they ignore you, go straight to the top to your administrator. If you still are left with no help, take it on with the bully. When the school is upset at you for causing an altercation, the parents can say, ‘Hey, its not her, it’s YOU. you did nothing.”
I thought that was amazing advice and I applaud him for addressing the dirty-little-secret that often the problem is because of the lack of intervention within the school.

We are all Nerds

I think, even more so after attending this panel, that we truly all are nerds, in one sense or another. Nerds are individuals  with a strong love for something. Be it a movie, book, series…. ANYTHING goes, and they are proud of their likes. What is something that you’re simply passionate about? Get your nerd on and share with me!

I am so happy I fell into the panel and have 3 new people I can nerd out over!

  1. jamiegall1930

    April 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    So awesome! What a great discussion to stumble upon. I also would have felt like I belong 😉

    1. Along Comes Mary

      April 28, 2012 at 1:22 am

      I already have nerded out over the fact that Pamela Ribon tweeted me that this was a great blog post!;-)

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