Intrepid Girl Reporter

Saturday, 11/15: capsule reviews
November 16, 2008, 1:34 am
Filed under: crushes, IGR Recommends


The orchestra pit was loud enough that I had trouble hearing the lines. Also, most participants were good at either acting or singing. At least one of Miguk Brother’s friends was in the band, wearing an inside-out Led Zeppelin hoodie in place of the black dress shirt he was supposed to sport.


Benjamin Nugent gets points for being Kelly Kapoor’s boyfriend. Linking that reveals that she’s started updating her blog again: a positive development. I don’t doubt that he’s a nerd, but to be honest, I found the book rather…slight, which is to say, not all that nerdy. He doesn’t delve all that deep into his subject, and I think more of a David Foster Wallace approach would have been more appropriate, because if there’s one thing that nerds love, it’s minutiae.

Other issues I had with the book:

  • classifications: He distinguishes between nerds who are unable to interact with others and nerds who are placed in that category by dint of social circumstances. These are not inaccurate, but they are inadequate; they fail to take into account the category of people who have a legitimate and substantial interest in information that may or may not be important, but that the majority of people do not consider worth their attention. E.g. the way people used to make fun of me because I, quote, “actually like to read.” (Further taunt: “I bet she doesn’t ever watch TV.”)
  • He doesn’t spend a lot of time on girl nerds, although as my brother pointed out, as a male nerd it is doubtful that he has spent a lot of time with the opposite sex.
  • My brother says that he mischaracterizes gamers. (I disagree.)
  • He references Paul Feig’s characterization of nerds as essentially liberal and jocks as essentially conservative in a way that fits in with his own paradigm, which suggests to me that he agrees with it. However, I know multiple guys from My College alone whose pursuit of conservative ideology made them, to say the least, not the most accessible people; in fact, I would argue that it was something of an alienating factor, and that their willingness to expound upon the nuances of what can appear on the surface to be a rather harsh (i.e. realist) ideology placed them squarely in Nerd Camp.

That having been said, his analysis of the “nerd trend” is absolutely spot-on, and articulates the way I’ve felt for a long time. As a person who used to sit alone at lunch and took to going to the library every day in order to avoid social interaction, and who used to read the encyclopedia for fun, I give others’ claims of nerdiness close scrutiny (even though I can interact with other people now). It’s the sort of thing I would have expected from Chuck Klosterman, and Mr. Klosterman is the only person I can think of who would have written about it better.

You hear fake nerd conversation. It follows a model. You bring up an “obsession” or “total fascination” with a purportedly unfashionable subject. “I am such a dork about old Hawaiian slide guitar. I actually have every King Benny record. I’ve so got a problem.” “Dude, you want to hit In-N-Out Burger? I basically live on their Protein Burgers when I’m in LA.”

This is a way of whipping out cultural capital, but not in the same way as leaving guests in the living room to retrieve a hollow-body guitar or a first edition of To The Lighthouse. The Gretsch and the Woolf say, “I am creative and educated, so I have an understanding of the blues and the Bloomsbury group.” The Hawaiian slide recordings and the In-N-Out Burger, which are both low-end consumer products, say, “I love the things I love because I am guided by some untamed voice within me that causes me to have random obsessions. I will follow my individualized obsessions, not trends, and be transparent about those obsessions, even when those obsessions tell me to like things widely considered ugly and cheap.” It’s the cultural capital of quirk.


I’ve always been sort of indifferent towards Beyonce, so I am a little surprised by how much I love this song. It sounds like the sharpest and most heart-wrenching breakup letter possible, with a surprisingly nuanced take (more so than it needs to be) on gender double standards. It’s a little more sophisticated than “Independent Women.” If I were Jay-Z, I’d be squirming a little. The melody hits this perfect balance between melancholic balad and angry tirade, too.


I can has?*


Kenny Shopsin is like a fully realized Daniel Pinkwater character come to life. I really want to go to his restaurant, but I’m afraid he would hate me, so I will content myself by trying his macaroni-and-cheese pancakes.


Seemingly the only thing that hasn’t suffered at the hands of their (apparent) new management. For $5, it’s an incredible pile of calamari in a very fine gingery dressing. You will not need anything else to eat.

*Look, I like weird not super famous actors. Besides, Clueless.


3 Comments so far
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Daniel Pinkwater!! That makes me want to go to that restaurant too.

Comment by Rachel

The author of American Nerd was one of the answers at trivia night tonight, and I had just read this and still could not remember his name, DAG BLESS IT. I spent five minutes going “somebody’s boyfriend. HE’S SOMEBODY’S BOYFRIEND.”

We won anyway, though.

Comment by Brendan

[…] though writing the best food memoir I’ve read all year isn’t enough, it turns out that Kenny Shopsin, New York restauranteur and cranky old man […]

Pingback by the brilliance of Kenny Shopsin « me + Julio

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