rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
I wanted to catch up on READING this blog I found before I posted about it, but it's taking me longer than I'd like (I'm looking at it as reading a book, and we all know how persistent I've been about THAT process lately), and anyway at the moment I feel a bit annoyed, which is a good way to get me to post something (that actually relates to ANOTHER potential post that's been tumbling around my head lately-- anger=drive-- but I guess I'll get to that one some other time, too), so darnit, here you are anyway, now. I must share! We shall NOW all finish catching up TOGETHER!

Anyhoo, a couple of weeks ago I found a link to this article, about a woman-- a CHILDREN'S LIBRARIAN in fact-- who's started a Tumblr blog called My Husband's Stupid Record Collection, in which she listens to her husband's stupid-only-in-that-it-is-stupidly-LARGE vinyl collection in order and writes about it.

OH-EM-GEE. THIS WOMAN NEEDS TO BE MY NEW BEST FRIEND. That is so totally what I want to DO with my life! Systematically go through a whole stupid record collection and write about it! (It's probably the true ulterior motive behind my imaginary marriage to Martin Freeman! I'm totally imaginarily using him for his record collection!) It only really WORKS with a massive vinyl collection, I'm afraid. Sure, I could write about new-to-me music I find online. I could go through MY husband's CD collection if I thought it contained any hidden treasures (it doesn't). But it's not the same. It's not that I'm a vinyl purist, sound-wise-- it's that there's something ritualistic about listening to a record. The putting-it-on-the-turntable, setting-the-needle-in-place process, and then SITTING, LISTENING.

The annoyance that nudges me to post comes from, apparently, some outsiders' attitudes toward the project. Did you know there's apparently a gender divide to music geekery? And so this blog is either a musically-clueless girl bringing her fresh perspective to the male world of music collection, or it is reinforcing stereotypes ABOUT how girls are clueless about record collecting? (Reading SOME of the comments to this post she wrote in response to the detractors, basically comments in which detractors said "You're still wrong," which is super-annoying but seems sadly to be the fate of Internet discourse, anyway, that was what made me annoyed this time). Where do these ideas COME from? In my house growing up, sure, the music-collection geek of the binary-gendered couple was my dad. In this house right here? The music geek is me. Absolutely not the guy. I certainly never thought of it along gendered lines. Just, you know, individual people and their hobbies lines.*

My dad passed on his music geekery to me from long before conscious memory: playing the piano for me as an infant, offering me music lessons as a given (the way I remember it was he brought some fliers home from some lesson-offering friends and said "Would you like to learn the piano or the violin?" Which, MAYBE he was asking if I'd like to learn either at all, but I definitely HEARD as "You will learn one of these, which will it be?" Luckily I already WANTED to play the piano), quizzing me on singers and songs, getting so involved in the Band Parents that I'm pretty sure HE had more friends at my school than I did, and, yes, digging out his totally massive vinyl collection for my perusal and eventual use on my college radio show. Now, HIS record collection I could definitely write about. The special thing about his collection is that it's mostly 45s instead of LPs-- as a teenager he'd worked for a deejay who paid him in records. LOADS of Promotional-issued 45s. He's got this famous misprint of "Penny Lane" with a few extra trumpet notes at the end, that deejays were SUPPOSED to destroy once they got the official release instead, but hey. Technically, I'VE got it. He officially gave me all his Beatles 45s, but they must be somewhere still at his house... which is funny because now I also have his RECORD player.

My best friend Angie had a record player in college, and her roommate Jen and I would dig up obscure records from our parents' collections just to bring to school and sit around their room, listening. (Okay not JUST-- I DID have my radio show for which I was constantly lugging a bag-and-a-box of vinyl around). My only really great contribution to this was Donovan's "There Is a Mountain," which I made everyone I met listen to at some point, and okay, you can debate if this was a GREAT contribution or not (but if you choose to debate with me on the topic, you ARE wrong). Jen dug up the marvels. She found the "Da Da Da" song that was on a Volkswagen commercial at the time-- not just the song, a whole ALBUM. She introduced us to "Hocus Pocus" by Focus, which is awesome but to be honest we mostly just made excuses to say it aloud. I'm sure there were more, but those are the only specifics I can think of at the moment, beyond that they sampled the Doors' "The Soft Parade" for all the system sounds on their computer, so the computer would announce "THE MONK BOUGHT LUNCH" every time you turned it off, but they had that on CD, not vinyl, so like I said. Not the Same.

I'm really not so off in wanting Sarah-of-her-husband's-stupid-record-collection as a best friend, because she reminds me an AWFUL lot of Jen. Even in looks, they're built alike, with similar smiles, and have the same super-straight banged hair, and glasses when blog-Sarah is wearing glasses. Jen ended up marrying a musician-- a drummer of nearly every possible genre, a true music geek if ever there was one. No one can deny that Jen's husband is a BIGGER music geek than she is, but that doesn't make Jen NOT a music geek, just because she (like Sarah, like me) chose to devote her career to books instead (Jen's a writer/English professor, not a librarian, but basic gist holds).

This is an example of a broader issue of Geekdom. The "what makes a TRUE Geek of Such-and-Such?" question. And there IS a gender thing that comes up in that question, most famously in the "Fake Geek Girl" concept. This title usually refers to girls who like comics and conventions, where a few of the guys who like comics and conventions just can't seem to believe that is possible. But of course GEEKINESS is much more than comics and conventions. The word "geek," used in a neutral-to-positive sense, seems to mean "a person who takes joy in their favorite things to the point of studying, collecting, debating, and otherwise going on and on about them, unselfconsciously and irregardless of those things being seen as 'cool' by the mainstream," most inclusively. But you can't deny that some of those favorite things are considered more "geeky" than others, and "Geek Culture" just generally assumes a love of speculative fiction, comic books and/or superheroes, games of all sorts (but especially NON-MAINSTREAM games), and anything BRAINY or NERDY (I still think "nerd" is a subset of "geek"-- a more academic and outright-uncool geek). I'm an utter nerd, and therefore (subset, you know) a geek. I use big words, not to impress people, but just because they come out that way. I love learning new and weird things, I like to THINK about things, I absorb useless trivia, I'm passionate about my favorite things, and I love "Geek Culture" because it's full of people LIKE that; and I DO love speculative fiction, though mostly as written for younger people, and I love games but video games make me dizzy, and I like superheroes but comics make me dizzy, too... so when people say "Fake Geek Girl" they're usually not talking about ME.

Rock music, in and of itself, is not considered "geeky" that way, but a) it's nonetheless MY biggest Geekdom, and b) the culture surrounding it ALSO tends to assume that This Isn't a Girl Thing. So I relate.
I even did a whole salute to "Fake" Rock Girls last year for our Video Blog. I'm not going to repeat everything I said there here, partially because I want to get us away from the gender issue now. WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A GEEK FOR SOMETHING, male or female? CAN you draw a line, saying Because you are not as Extreme In Your Geekitude as me, you're not a Geek of this topic? Because you direct your passion on this topic in a different WAY than I do, you are not a Geek?

I always think of Star Wars for that last question. Star Wars is very important to me, emotionally. Did a Vlog about that one, too. But I still remember when my aforementioned friend Jen-- I DEDICATE THIS WHOLE POST TO JEN-- first gave me her email address, which incorporated the name "Wedge Antilles," and I was like "What's that mean?" and she was like, "WEDGE WAS THE ONE REBEL BESIDES THE MAIN CHARACTERS WHO MADE IT THROUGH ALL THREE STAR WARS MOVIES!" and I was like, "Oh, really? I don't remember him." Because, unlike most "Star Wars Geeks," I really didn't have every ancillary detail memorized. I was too busy marvelling about life and death and sacrifice and mercy. I'm a BIG PICTURE Star Wars geek-- a forest type instead of a trees type. But there's a certain contingent of Geekery devoted to mapping the bark of every tree in the forest, and a certain contingent of THAT contingent that believes you're not a true Geek unless you, too, are a bark-mapper.

I'm a bark-mapper of the Beatles forest, though, which may be part of why I feel most comfortable claiming that as my biggest Geekdom. But it gets a little scary when your Geekitude is judged on quantity, because there's a LOT of bark in a forest, and even if you SHOULD get through mapping it all, by that time some trees have died and new ones have grown. And sometimes I feel like a sorry excuse for a music geek because I've gotten so BEHIND in the past seven years (as I have with everything. KIDS KILL BRAIN CELLS, in case you were unaware). Plus, I'm on the Internet, surrounded by other bark mappers, who are familiar with so MUCH obscure music and trivia-- my specialized knowledge pales! I mean, come on, "There Is a Mountain" is on Donovan's GREATEST HITS album, for cryin' out loud!

Bringing us back to Sarah-of-her-husband's-stupid-record-collection. If you actually read her blog, it's clear she is NOT a clueless outsider. She LOVES music! She LOVES to listen and to dance and to go to concerts and to discover MORE of it! But a) she loves it in a different WAY than her husband and the other bark-mappers-- a more emotional way, feeling it physically, is how she describes it. And sure, there's lots of DETAILS she doesn't know-- a lot of stuff I knew that she only just learned. But she also knows stuff I don't know (starts off her Blonde Redhead review by saying she listened to them a lot in college-- I've never so much as HEARD of them), and stuff I DO know but I'm fairly sure is really NOT common knowledge (does the average person REALLY have any idea who Syd Barrett is? Also by the way, am I stupidly pleased that she loves Barrett? It's so weird but so wonderful).

The point IS loving it. Or hating it as the case may be. The ENTHUSIASM. Geeking out over records is not a contest to see how much you already know. It's sitting around the turntable making discoveries for the first time, or sharing your underappreciated favorites with your friends, or even gawking over truly horrible things you've dug up, but learning and feeling new things is all PART of it. You lose that vitality if you make it dependent on what you ALREADY know.

Now I really miss Jen and Angie and their record player. Oh well.

* In a flip to this, a few weeks ago the 5yo, listening to the radio, out of nowhere said "This is a BOY singing! Boys don't sing!" "SURE they do. Whatever gave you that idea?" I replied, genuinely bewildered. "Well, DADDY doesn't sing..." she said. "Well yeah, but that's DADDY. Not BOYS. The Beatles are boys. And haven't you ever heard Pappap sing?" and I vowed in my head to make sure to get the kids to more of my dad's choral society concerts. He also sang in the church choir at Easter, and I made a point of MAKING SURE THEY KEPT NOTICING THAT the whole time we were there.

Date: 2014-05-18 05:12 am (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I've been thinking a bit about some of the same topics recently, partially spawned by a reference I saw to The Simpsons being "a geek show that went mainstream," and wondering what exactly makes something "a geek show." It's a topic I'll likely explore in a future post, but I'm not sure when.

I guess you could say an emotional connection to something is more of a feminine trait, while knowledge of trivia is masculine. Still, they generally go hand in hand, even if some people focus more on one side than the other. I've certainly never thought of music geekery as anything divided along gender lines.

And hey, if you make a metaphor involving Star Wars and forests, aren't you required to mention Ewoks?

Date: 2014-05-18 01:59 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
And hey, if you make a metaphor involving Star Wars and forests, aren't you required to mention Ewoks?
Oh SURE, BE a geek arbitrary-rule-maker! Just go away and whine about the FGGs with your loser cronies, now!

Yeah, I'm always inclined to say "This is BIGGER than gender issues!" (probably part of being one of those Big Picture types), but it's true that it's the yin-emotional-connection that's looked down upon by the yang-intellectual-side, and, whoa, when I put it in THOSE terms the need for them to go hand in hand speaks for itself, doesn't it? (at least if you KNOW anything about yin and yang!) Since I've always been a sponge for trivia as well as being an emotional sap, it's never felt either-or to me, which is probably why it always amazes and horrifies me when people DO think it should be either-or.

I actually cannibalized a partially-written post I gave up on for some of this post-- it was a post on "geek music," and how I've never cared that much about "geek music" even though I'm a music geek. Aside from my psychedelia obsession (which is ALSO not considered "geek music" with the exception of Dukes of the Stratosphear) my tastes are relatively "mainstream," but we've got this collection of artists that seem to be big among online geek culture-- YOU know what I mean, because you're a big fan of most of them yourself! You and, like, the rest of the geek world. But aside from the pure joy of that TMBG concert at the HUB, and the Dukes of the Stratosphear CD you made me (:D), I'm really not that into any of those bands and would rather, you know, listen to Zeppelin like some dumb stoner under the bleachers (referencing Nick from Freaks and Geeks here. You know, Nick the "Freak" not "Geek"). So it's like, I'm a Music Geek but I don't listen to Geek Music. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? WHO THE HECK DECIDED THAT WAS GEEK MUSIC?

I just addressed every one of your paragraphs in backwards order.

Date: 2014-05-18 11:22 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I think part of it is that what's considered geek music includes references to somewhat obscure things in the lyrics, like how TMBG has a song about the Belgian painter James Ensor. Unusual instruments also help, but aren't strictly necessary. I'll probably address some of this myself at some point.

Date: 2014-05-28 09:37 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I appreciate obscure references and REALLY appreciate unusual instruments, but I don't love them just for the sake of being there, you know? They need to be worked in cleverly and musically.

I guess this is why I never got into Family Guy, too.

Date: 2014-05-18 05:16 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Curiously enough, the sermon in church this morning was on the artificial barriers we all tend to put up between Us and Them - no matter who the Us is, no matter who the Them is. The pastor told an anecdote about a man who secretly scorned a church elder as less spiritual because the elder didn't drink coffee during his morning quiet time, and everybody KNOWS that people who don't drink coffee with their Bible reading are less spiritual. It's funny, but it's also sad, because it's TRUE, people do judge each other, whether consciously or unconsciously, on the smallest little areas of difference. We do, all of us, put up all these fences, in every area, whether it be faith or geekdom or what-have-you. And I wonder if it isn't because we're afraid, deep inside, that WE are the ones who are "wrong" or "not as good as," and so we put up the fences not so much to exclude others as to protect ourselves, but others end up getting excluded as a result. It's easier to say "He's not as spiritual because he doesn't drink coffee!" than it is to say "Am I less spiritual because I rely on coffee to get me through my Bible reading and prayer?" And maybe some guys say "You're less of a geek than me because you're a girl!" because what they're really afraid of is that being a geek somehow makes them less masculine. Which is all stupid, but when are fears of Being Wrong ever rational?

Regarding Wedge Antilles - if you ever want to find out more about WHY he's so awesome, besides the fact that he survived two Death Star runs and the Hoth evacuation, I have all the X-Wing novels featuring him and would be happy to lend them to you. :-) Because Wedge really does need more fans.

Date: 2014-05-18 07:03 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Looking at myself and my own failings, that whole being-exclusionary-to-protect-your-own-ego theory seems spot on! I can fall in the pit of congratulating myself and admit that I've gotten much BETTER about it over the course of my life (but no, I still do it about some things, like people who claim to love Martin but only because he was in Sherlock-- they are FALSE! They cannot possibly love him the way I love him! They only love that stupid show!), but particularly I remember when I was a kid trying to brush off when other kids said they loved writing or wanted to be a professional writer when they grew up-- that was MY SCHTICK! And now it's interesting to me that there are other grownups who still feel that way, that other people's successes in writing are unfair, when I seem to have gotten over that feeling, maybe because I'm more understanding that everyone's stories are unique and nobody's going to steal my stories away from me (now if I could only figure out what my stories ARE, but that's another issue). Yeah, it's definitely "I've got all this knowledge! Wait... you might know something different than me about this topic? YOU MUST BE FAKING IT BECAUSE I AM THE SMARTEST!" I AM better than I used to be, because just thinking about it I feel a mingling of relief and embarrassment-- complete RECOGNITION, but I've let it go and it feels good to know that!

As for Wedge, I mostly just laughed and wished I could introduce you to Jen!

Date: 2014-05-18 11:33 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I think there's also a bit of not wanting people you don't like to enjoy the same things you do. It's selfish, sure, but it can be nice when you feel like the fans of a certain thing have compatible personalities. I seem to recall hearing how Kurt Cobain was really upset when the bigoted jerks who made fun of him in his younger days suddenly acted like they loved him once he became famous. Not that I've ever been a particular fan of Nirvana, but I find Cobain to be a sympathetic figure.

Date: 2014-05-27 01:34 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I've missed reading your posts! I'm hoping to get back into this LJ world!

I completely understand you with the levels of Geek-dom. I'm the same way with Star Wars. I love the movies and even enjoy the prequels, but I don't read the books or get all of the trivial details like more obsessed fans get. I take quizzes on Star Wars and am humbled by just what I do not understand! But, it doesn't take away my love for the big picture!

Now, Harry Potter...that's where I get a bit more detail oriented. When working at BN, I was the resident expert and got into many discussions with teenagers and adults alike about theories and details.

Oh, and I'm planning on going to my first ever convention this summer! I think I'm going to take the boy up to Philly for their ComicCon. I think he will love it since he's turning out to be my mini-Geek!

Date: 2014-05-28 09:30 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Welcome back! I'm flattered to be missed!

Harry Potter's one where I almost forget how big a geek I am just because I'm not going to cons and cosplaying and proclaiming it the Greatest Series Ever or anything-- I haven't even joined Pottermore!-- I'm like, "Wow, people are still THAT OBSESSED with it?"-- and then some little in-joke shows up online ( and I'm laughing and "YES!"-ing my head off, or I find myself having to PASSIONATELY DEFEND Ron/Hermione again, ( and I surprise myself how much I really do care still even though it's been years since I re-read or -watched. And, yeah, there's very little HP trivia that will get past me!


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