About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerd Entertainment: Movies

Forsaken Fotos - Lonely Movie
Most nerds love movies of all kinds, and while there are a few genres that appeal to them more than others, many nerds will happily sit through a chick-flick or bromance just because they like watching movies. However, certain types of movies are more appealing to nerds, and you might wonder why.

Science Fiction
Nerds tend to enjoy science fiction movies, not because of the science (which is typically wrong in every movie), but because of the fiction. Science fiction movies are about escape from our reality--the one where a lone outsider can't do much to change what's wrong with the planet--into another world where the misfit turns out to have the answers that save the day. The rules are often unknown in this world, which is often something nerds dislike, but movies allow us to enter this new world safely. We can see the future, the past, anyplace or time in the universe without packing a toothbrush. And of course there's a good chance we'll see spaceships with lasers.

The same things from science fiction apply to fantasy, but instead of spaceships with lasers they have wizards with lightning spells.

See above, but in addition to spaceships, lasers, wizards and lightning, add flying people who can punch through brick walls and read minds.

Somewhere around half of all nerds enjoy horror, and the half that don't enjoy it usually can't stand it, so ask before you bring home Dead Snow.  Horror nerds may seem really creepy on the surface, and you may wonder what sort of sick freak wants to watch the ghost of a Japanese school girl suck the eyeballs out of drunken teenagers, but the Dario Argento posters and Jack Skellington figurines decorating the apartment are not an indicator of an asphalt colored soul lurking inside your nerd. In fact, most horror nerds are polite to the point of meekness. Much like sci-fi or fantasy, horror is an escape. It's a way of experiencing the worst possible worlds without getting hurt. If your nerd can survive 90 minutes of zombiepocalypse, then he knows he can face the reality of school or work on Monday. Plus, horror movies give an amazing adrenaline rush.

Not all movies are about escape. Documentaries are probably the most obvious form of nerd entertainment because they're full of topic-specific knowledge shot on high-definition digital cameras accompanied by an emotional soundtrack. Documentaries are the antithesis of escapist entertainment, and nerds put a premium on fidelity and reality. When they watch how Dr. Robert Moog invented the synthesizer or the life story of George Takei, everything better be correct. Documentaries that purport to show proof of mermaids or how giant aliens built the pyramids are typically viewed as comedies.

There are a few things to keep in mind when watching movies with nerds.

Nerds can watch a movie over and over and over...relentlessly. If a new version of a nerd's favorite film gets released, even if it only has 6 extra seconds of footage added, there will be a trip to the theater. It's OK to suggest watching something new, unless it's Star Wars Day.

When a nerd points out all the flaws in the movie you just finished, it doesn't mean he hated it, it means he was paying close attention to it and would probably watch it again with the commentary track playing so he can hear the director's and actors' detailed thoughts about it.

Like most people, some nerds hate talking during movies while others talk incessantly. It should be easy to figure out which type you're hanging out with.
  • “No talking” nerds will appreciate it if you show some respect and wait until the movie is over or ask to pause the movie before discussing a scene, but please don't talk in the middle of a highly charged emotional exchange or, heaven forbid, the film's climax. 
  • The “talking” nerd may need a gentle reminder to respect your immersion into the movie and save questions or comments until after, when you can have an involved discussion during a replay of the movie. 
  • Of course, if you're both into talking during a film, please don't sit near me.

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