Geeks are not so hard to buy for after all!

Every year, I hear people complain that they just can’t find a gift suited for the geek in their life, so they end up getting them another copy of The Big Bang Theory on DVD, even though they know they already own it. This has to stop. That’s why we here at Nerd Living are giving you the opportunity to get exactly the right gift for the geek who, in fact, does NOT have everything!

Original artwork inspired by the Hunger Games. Custom artwork is the perfect gift for the special geek in your life.

Original artwork inspired by the Hunger Games. Custom artwork is the perfect gift for the special geek in your life.

Shameless Plug:

Artwork! I’m an artist, not starving, but I could use a bite to eat now and then. I’m not the only one! Geeks love art, whether it be penciled sketches from comic book artists or animation cells, they appreciate the work it takes to do it. It’s not so hard to come by and isn’t necessarily as expensive as you might expect. Look for cartoons, tv shows, movies and books that they may like and check online for original work and prints. If you want to check out some of my own work, go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/art.duanemaddy and give it a like!

Next up, you can’t go wrong with the obscure!

There’s not a nerd alive who will pass up a DVD that no one else has, or one that brings back childhood memories. Shout! Factory specializes in both. They have Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (a great show, especially for those geeks who are into the sarcasm) uncut, unedited and ready to roll for great prices. You can see their stuff at www.shoutfactory.com or their facebook page www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

Soft kitty, warm kitty snuggler blanket.

Soft kitty, warm kitty snuggler blanket.

The Big Bang Gift:

Instead of the DVD, which they’ve already got, check out the Clue: The Big Bang Theory game, available on Amazon.com. You have six suspects (the cast) and six custom “acts of betrayal items” including a dismantled Shelbot. Don’t ask. Just trust me on this one.

If you have more of a cutesy geek, maybe they’d prefer The Big Bang Theory Kitty Socks instead. Soft kitty will look and feel soft on their feet! Available at amazon.com also.

It will match purrfectly (sorry) with the Soft Kitty Snuggler Blanket that you can get on Amazon.com. Whiskers not included.

Accessories for Her:

Etsy has given geeks everywhere a chance to rejoice. Check out the customized earrings from Sarah Crumpler’s C.H. Gallery for a selection that will lower your lobes and blow your mind. www.etsy.com/shop/chgallery

Accessories for Baby:

Whether it’s for your Marvel Comics loving baby, or your Doctor Who loving baby, give the new parent an upgrade from their usual baby toting ride with Gracie and Sam’s Carriers, Covers, and all things Cozy. What baby doesn’t want to be carted around in a TARDIS inspired baby carrier? See the selection at www.etsy.com/shop/GracieandSam

Accessories for Him:

Geek guys don’t like to shower. Go to Comic Con for a weekend and you’ll see I’m right. That being said, you can encourage cleanliness with a totally new bathroom set. Beam your dude into this officially licensed Star Trek bathroom set, which includes the shower curtain and the transporter pad…I mean bath mat. The shower rings are even included and that’s important for your landing party. Check it out at www.thinkgeek.com/product/1299

The doctor's choice of transportation will make sure you're on time.

The doctor’s choice of transportation will make sure you’re on time.

Accessories for Them:

They love Doctor Who and you don’t get it. You think it is cheesy and cheap. They think it’s life changing and inspiring. They cried when Rose was no longer on the show. You cried when you heard her read her lines.

You don’t have to understand them to get them the right gift. The TARDIS projection alarm clock and table lamp from amazon.com will put you on the “nice list” with your geeky “companions” and make time travel a little easier. See the products here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009Y7CV8Y//ref=cm_sw_su_dp?tag=relprods-20 http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-Tardis-Table-Lamp/dp/B008PUPGTC/ref=pd_sim_t_4

"Burning" Down the House

Netflix has made one of our favorite pastimes much easier. Watching informative and heart stirring documentaries.

Throughout this past year, we’ve taken in everything from the rockumentary life story of Levon Helm’s last days here on earth, to the soulful tale of the new face of soul, Charles Bradley. The ESPN 30 for 30 series gives a sport-tacular chronicled history of sports ranging from the well known to the unknown. There is a limitless number of political documentaries telling the stories of the world changing to the worst. The Chicago Eight Trial and the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention made us feel like breaking out into protests, while a detailed look at the invention of Jelly Belly brand jelly beans was a jaw breaker of a story.

We swore that each one was better than the last. They were all different and all demanded their own emotional pull, but then there was Ken Burns.

Ken Burns is a documentary genius and the reason for this post. His thorough portrayal and study of each subject, along with the in depth personal experiential journey he takes the viewers on, makes him one of a kind in the world of biographical story telling.

We became aware of Burns through his Civil War series on PBS several years ago. The way he brought the individual stories to the forefront, through letters and photos was a rare glimpse into a time that was without a doubt our nation’s darkest. He didn’t take sides. He didn’t sway from facts. He simply let the story unfold. What he uncovered was a beautiful view of the ugliness of hatred, war and politics. This summer, just as the boys of summer were taking to diamonds across the country, we decided to dive into Burns’ “Baseball” series, which naturally had nine episodes. My dad was a huge baseball fan — especially the Reds — and Duane has a tremendous love for the New York Yankees, but my knowledge of the game’s history was pretty limited until that point. Burns began from the inception of the organized sport. This series takes you through some the legendary players and the evolution of the clubs, the leagues, the reasoning behind the why, how, when and what of the game.

We took a road trip for our anniversary in July. In our hotel room, we started Burns’ “The Dust Bowl.” Not exactly every couple’s idea of an entertaining anniversary, but for us it was the best.

Ken Burns captured the resiliency of Americans in "The Dust Bowl."

Ken Burns captured the resiliency of Americans in “The Dust Bowl.”

We knew quite a bit about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, but as usual, this presented things we never heard of. The things a generation twice removed endured are just unimaginable. Each time they thought the rain would come, the dirt buried them deeper in grief and agony, yet they endured it to the end. I’m not so sure generations today would be as resilient.

The War takes a look at citizens from four average American towns and how World War II affected them.

The War takes a look at citizens from four average American towns and how World War II affected them.

Most recently, we finished “The War” which chronicled the lives of soldiers, their families and citizens from four “typical” American towns during World War II. Since WWII was so broad, with battles being fought all over the globe, centering the story around a limited number of people really helps you learn what average families went through — what it was like waiting to see if your son/husband/father had been killed in action, “Rosie the Riveters” taking their place in factories, African Americans and Japanese citizens who wanted to serve their country, but prejudice and ignorance were their front line of battle on this side of the ocean. Prior to being captured by Japanese, one soldier took off his dog tags and tossed them in the snow covered burial grounds so his family would have some sort of closure. Because of this, his family had assumed the worst. It was not until after the war ended that they found out he had actually survived multiple prison camps and starvation.

Regardless of what it may seem, pain and grief are not the focal points in Burns’ work. In fact, the reaction and ability of the human spirit to overcome the pain and grief are the real focus. Human resiliency and pride are the biggest life preservers in times of struggle. Even when the odds are impossible to overcome, the people who succeeded –whether in war, starvation, poverty, or even in baseball — were the ones who stood firm when they were outnumbered the most.

Not all of the heroes wore a 42 on their jersey, not all of them had medals on their uniforms. Not all of them had a farm at the end of the day. But they all had one thing in common: Their will.

Things I'm super excited about…

I’d planned to pen a few different bloggy things over the last few weeks, but my excitement over new television shows, books and movies got the best of me and I was having trouble focusing. So I thought, why not combine them all into a nerdy mashup of things I’m way excited about.

Let’s start with the big screen and things that are closer on the radar…

In a few short weeks fans of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy “The Hunger Games” will be making their way to theaters for the second installment in the series. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire drops on Nov. 22 and you bet your bottom I’ll be in one of the Charleston area theaters for a midnight (or earlier) show.

The first movie was still being shown in theaters last fall when Lionsgate announced they were going to do the whole series, including filming the last in the series The Hunger Games: Mockingjay in two parts.

For those not familiar with the Girl on Fire and her reluctant plight to free her peeps, in the future America is gone and instead is a society made up of 13 districts and the Capitol. There was a civil war and the Capitol won (and destroyed District 13). Since then, 75 years ago, a boy and girl are picked from each district to go into an arena filled with all kinds of nightmares and fight each other to the death. There can only be one winner — unless you figure out how to beat the game, like District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) did.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark looking fierce and fiery.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark looking fierce and fiery.

The pair won the 74th Hunger Games as the first ever co-victors.

That was the first book. In the second book we see what the much beloved Girl on Fire caused– an uprising in the districts. The year after their victory is a Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Games that in that year sends all the victors (read: legendary proven killers) back into the arena.

The last trailer was released only a couple of weeks ago. It shows Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in the run up to the games and what they find in the arena, a little hint, it’s nothing pleasant.

The first movie could have been better. Some have said that it looked like a Sci-Fi Channel original movie instead of an actual Hollywood movie. I’d have to agree with that. Though the emotions most of the cast showed were top notch. I’ve got high hopes for this one.

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Last year I dove deeper into the nerd vortex when I binge watched all Netflix had to offer of the  BBC’s Doctor Who series. Why hadn’t I done that sooner? It’s such a good show and though there are some episodes that are cheesy and campy, it can also draw out some serious emotion. It’s wildly entertaining. I watched a bunch of episodes on Netflix but once I figured out when it aired on BBC America it became my Saturday night thing.

It’s been around for a while. The Doctor vroops around time and space in a blue police box called a TARDIS with a companion (who he picks up along his travels) and regenerates every once in a while giving the show a change in lead characters. We’re on our eleventh Doctor in Matt Smith, who is leaving the show this year in the Christmas special.

The Doctor has many faces.

The Doctor has many faces.

This year is the Doctor’s 50th anniversary and the show runners are planning a huge event to celebrate it. The 50th anniversary special is called “The Day of the Doctor” and in it we’ll likely see all of the incarnations of the Doctor, including one we’ve never spoken of. Eleven and Ten (David Tennant, my fave) and their companions Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) will feature prominently in the show, I believe.

The BBC is running a full week of Doctor Who marathons and specials leading up to the anniversary special. It airs Nov. 23 and will be simulcast at the same time around the world. It’ll start at 7:50 p.m. in the U.K., which means we need to be in front of a television in West Virginia at 2:50 p.m.

This special anniversary show takes us back to Gallifrey (The Doctor’s home planet) where we get a good look at the war between the Time Lords and the Daleks. Check this out…

Next weekend I’ll be venturing out to fellow Whovian and nerd Zack Harold’s Boone County home for a Whosgiving Celebration and watch party. It’ll be my first gathering with other fans of the Doctor and is sure to be an experience and a good time. Allons-y!

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Further off in the horizon — my God is it April yet?—is the third film in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is back as Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know who Captain America was. And more than likely you know who Winter Soldier is and why he’s kind of a big deal. There’s a whole story arc dedicated to him and his, ahem, issues.

Captain America jumps without a 'chute.... just sayin'.

Captain America jumps without a ‘chute…. just sayin’.

Cap (he said I could call him that) is fresh off the Battle of Midtown with the Avengers and is still coming to terms with this new world. He’s recently thawed after his time, to borrow a term from Tony Stark, as a Capsicle and most everyone he knew in the 1940s is dead. So he’s adjusting and more than likely isn’t having an easy time of it.

Judging from what I’ve read and seeing this trailer, he’s teamed up with the Black Widow aka Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson) and meets up with his new pal Falcon aka Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to do whatever it is SHIELD does. Explosions ensue. Just watch. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

See what I mean. Oh I forgot, there’s also Robert Redford as some SHIELD-type guy named Alexander Pierce. I trust him less than I trust Nick Fury (awesome character but is a lying liar who lies), so what’s that tell you?

Captain America: The First Avenger was my favorite from Phase One. I loved the way it was shot and how they told Steve Rogers’ story, pre- and post-serum. I’m looking forward to this one. My co-workers should be too, because it means more cakes like this one.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 14, 2014.

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