Wednesday, June 22, 2011

True Pride: What America can learn from Japan

   When thinking about history, it is easy to dwell on various wars, battles, and legislation that have all contributed to shaping the modern world. After all, people like to learn about other people; it is like intelligent gossip, in a way. Thus, one thing that is often left out of historical discussions is the natural disaster. After all, there are no people involved in the origins of such an event. We want to know why Hitler first dreamt up the Final Solution. We want to know why Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. We want to know why Amelia Earhart disappeared. There are “whys” associated with natural disasters too, but no one cares why hurricanes or tsunamis occur; they just know they do.
   Even if people do not have a hand in causing natural disasters, it is entirely up to us how we react to the crises, and it in these reactions where we discover quite a lot (maybe too much) about ourselves. Here in America, we have a lot to be proud of in terms of our country’s history. We have shown the rest of the world how to be self-sufficient. We were built on the aspirations of a few brave men who survived more hardship than most of us will ever know. While the American dream may be a cliché, it is pretty gosh darn accurate.
   But even the nation that has every reason to feel good about itself needs, on occasion, a slap in the face; Japan is giving us that slap. In the face of a natural crisis that may be beyond anything the world has yet seen, the people on the other side of the Pacific are beating us at our own game.
   Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, and a lot of people expected the United States to pull some kind of Matrix-esque dodge out of its star-spangled hat and, at minimum, take the blow gracefully. After all, a little water never hurt anyone. However, Katrina had a lot more in store for us than we ever thought (in Washington or New Orleans), and it was time for America to really buckle down and show some grit.
   You would have forgotten you lived in the United States. For right away, some New Orleans citizens who had remained in the city began looting stores. Food and water would appear to be the primary goal, but numerous photos were released showing deer-in-the-headlights Louisianans caught while making off with televisions, Air Jordans, and even beer. The bare essentials? Not if you count catching the latest edition of Baseball Tonight as an essential. Mere days before, people had owned those shops. People responded to the loss by increasing the respective loss of others. In hindsight, it does not make a whole lot of sense.
   I went onto Google and typed in “Japanese tsunami looters”. Instead of finding articles discussing crime rates and theft, I found people asking questions such as: “Why are there no looters in Japan?” and “Where are all the Japanese looters?” People are surprised by this, but they should not be. The problem is, Americans should consider this reaction normal. We have even shown a sense of national community ourselves, during events like World War II and 9/11. One misstep set us back, and now the Japanese seem like a bunch of saints.
   Figures in New Orleans were also quick to criticize the level of government involvement with relief efforts. Finger-pointing and accusations were present in not just Louisiana, but across the entire country. Everyone from the servicemen and women funneled into New Orleans to President Bush received harsh words. Whether they deserved these words or not is up for debate, but this was undoubtedly the wrong approach to recovery; finger-pointing never solves anything.
   To people who supported the government, the criticism made New Orleans look like a bunch of whiny, ungrateful brats. To those who were on the side of the citizens, the government looked domineering, disorganized, and uncaring. It was an immensely difficult situation for all parties involved, and instead of looking to create further conflict through the blame game, people should have kept their mouths shut. I am sure that everyone in both Washington and New Orleans was doing everything they could to combat the crisis (and sorry Kanye West, but that does mean that Bush cares about black people). No one wants to see destruction, and no one wants to see suffering.
   In a time when unity and cooperation were most important, America came up with a big fat failure. People were upset with the government for not delivering the aid they thought the city needed, and the government was overwhelmed with both the conduct of the people of New Orleans and the criticism of the nation. America should have been working together to help the city, and in the midst of all the arguing, the real goal was lost.
   Japan may have learned something from us, they saw a proud nation with a history of brotherhood turn against itself, and the resulting storm of negativity was not something that was wanted in the Land of the Rising Sun. Now, it is ripe that we turn the tables and learn a thing or two from them. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is something that is not likely to be repeated by Americans. It was a humiliating, disgraceful response to something that we should have identified as simple bad luck, not a preventable disaster. Japan is displaying remarkable poise during this present tragedy, and if America wants to return to the days of old, it would serve us well to take after our resilient neighbors to the West.
   The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck Japan back in March is far from irrelevancy, and the damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima I Power Plant is something that can remain a subtle yet dangerous threat for some time. As New Orleans deals with the aftermath of Katrina years afterward, it is certain that the recovery from the series of Japanese crises is far from over. But even in a catastrophe that exceeds Katrina, Japan has remained unified, orderly, and cooperative with both national and international relief efforts.
   Japanese casualties number over 15,000 confirmed deaths, while the Katrina casualties almost pale in comparison, with barely more than 1,800. Japan has seen over eight times the fatalities that America did back in 2005, and that is not even taking into account the 7,500 currently missing on the other side of the Pacific. Estimated costs of the earthquake/tsunami tandem top $300 billion. The costs of Katrina were about $80 billion. They have even more reasons than we did to be upset. Yet, compliance still seems to be the name of the game.
   Instead of protesting against the authorities and resisting the people who are trying to help out in the best way they know how, the citizens of Japan have joined together in the movement toward recovery. They seem to understand that teamwork and cooperation are the best way to fix their problems. Does every person in Japan agree with the way relief is coming into the country? I can guarantee you that they do not. But the difference between these people and those in 2005 New Orleans is that these people are not incriminating those who are simply trying to help.
   America needs to look at this and learn from it. Natural disasters themselves may not tell us anything about people, but the response to these disasters can tell us a heck of a lot. Japan has shown that compliance and gratitude can lead to a perspective of a nation that shows pride and class. Did America show pride after Katrina? It certainly is something to chew on.
   We live in one of the greatest countries in the world, and we are lucky to do so. In the past, we have shown that we can unify and work together to overcome adversity. With Katrina, we may not have done this, but a lapse in behavior does not define the character of a nation. By looking at Japan, America can remember how to return to the times when we put down personal desire and instead placed the country first.
   That is how you create a history to be proud of.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Chosen Villian: Trying and failing to forgive LeBron James

   The 2011 Miami Heat have often been described as having “love-hate” appeal. Meaning, you either love the team for their exciting, explosive style of play, or you hate them for the way they seemed to “schedule” multiple championships.  One’s feelings on the Heat as a team seem to relate directly to one’s attitude toward LeBron James. If you hate what he did to Cleveland with “The Decision”, chances are you were rooting for the Dallas Mavericks during The Finals. If you were fine with the way he went about the offseason, the chances are greater that you were gunning for him to win.
   I decided way back in July that the “love-hate” stamp would not apply to me. I did not have a problem with James choosing to work in the place he wanted to work, with the people he wanted to work with. After all, what honest person would not do the same thing? It was simply a professional choice. What I disagreed with was the way he went about announcing his choice. Boys & Girls’ Club aside, it seemed like a self-centered move to slot your own television special. A simple press conference would have made the parting with Cleveland much smoother, and the hate would likely not have been heaped on in such droves.
   But that was July. As of this moment, I am borderline-disgusted with LeBron James.
   Sure, I was absolutely cheering for the Mavs in these Finals. Dirk Nowitzki was looking for his first championship the old-fashioned way, with the team he had started with. Dirk never show-boated, never trash-talked, never walked through pillars of fire while declaring the expectancy to win upwards of seven titles. Dirk showed up at American Airlines Center everyday with the mindset that through hard work, determination, and grit, he would achieve his dream.
   That is a champion.
   After the scoreboard flashed the “triple zeroes”, as ESPN’s Stuart Scott likes to put it, LeBron quickly slapped a few hands and ducked into the Heat locker room. He went alone, and was the first one off the court. He was escaping. It was not the first time we have seen LeBron show unsportsmanlike characteristics. Back in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Cavaliers fell prey to the Orlando Magic in six games, James stormed off of the court and refused to appear for a post-game press conference. It was like watching a child go to their room after throwing a temper tantrum.
   That is not a champion.
   The handshakes after this game six were indeed an improvement, but the hurriedness of it all made it seem like James was only doing it to keep all of his haters at bay. He was essentially propping up the dam of criticism he knew would be heading his way.
   LeBron agreed to a post-game press conference this time, and one figured that the least he would do is make the usual nods toward the Mavs, toss them a little bit of street cred, and maybe even say something about the work he would do in the offseason to improve his game (Normally, this is a classic interview cop-out, but something tells me that even a canned statement like that would have greatly helped LeBron’s image in making him appear to accept his poor Finals performance). Just a simple acknowledgement of his shortcomings would come a long way with the public.
   However it was not LeBron James, but rather BFF Dwayne Wade who gave out props to the Mavericks, explaining to the media that Dallas was “obviously better”. LeBron was sitting right next to Wade at the time, and all the Chosen One had to do was give a few nods of agreement. This he would do. Check.
   Next would come the admittance of James’ poor play in the fourth quarter. James pointed out that in the previous postseason series, he was able to do things “to help us win ball games, but wasn’t able to do that in this series.” Perfect! Cut it right there, LeBron. Hey, not very articulate, but we got the message: you know you could have played a little better in the fourth quarter. Check.
   The King’s crown looked like it would be on its way down. LeBron was giving out the classic “it’s time to move on” speech so many before him had recited, but in this case he may have gotten away with it. The Heat would have learned their lesson, and after a few tired weeks of LeBron-in-the-clutch jokes, the public and media may have began to move on. No more Heat-hatin’. Rats.
   Minutes later, however, the crown came back on. With it, everyone, including nonchalant Heat-observers such as myself, was given a reason to be angry at LeBron. Everyone, because that is exactly who LeBron targeted with a further statement issued later that evening. Everyone.
   LeBron had this to say, to not only his critics, but apparently to every “average” human-being alive today:

"At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."

   The real world? The real world? Here is what happens in the real world, King James. Hard-working Americans wake up every day, put their feet on the floor, and face their problems head-on. We have plenty of obstacles in our path, sure, but in the real world we do not have the luxury of running off to a tunnel by ourselves and hiding from all of the people trying to psych us out. We choose to counter the criticism by proving that we show up to our jobs each time with the intention of putting our best foot forward.
   Our lives may be the same day in and day out, but that comes with not having the privilege of being gifted with an insane amount of athleticism. And is your life any different today than it was yesterday? It is not like you won the NBA title or anything. You have arrived in the real world, where people who want to forgive classless athletes do not have that opportunity because those same athletes keep doing classless things.
   I was rooting for the Mavericks, not against the Heat. However, LeBron’s comments may have changed that. It was a feeble, weak thing to say. Things did not shape out the way he wanted, so he resorted to mocking the lack of prestige our lifestyles have compared to his. He can do what he wants, that is exactly right, but someone who is trying to shake off all of the critics needs a better strategy than poking fun at those who bag on him. Did his mother ever teach him to “kill them with kindness” and “treat others the way you want to be treated”?
   One of my favorite Nike ads of all time shows a young LeBron James dribbling a basketball up the court. As the child advances up the hardwood, he grows older, and shots of James’ high school career are seen in the background. He enters the key, now fully evolved into the Chosen One we know today. As the present-day LeBron James elevates to throw down a slam dunk in glorious slow motion, we hear his voice proclaim “I am LeBron James. You don’t want to be me. You want to be better than me.” Cut to the Swoosh. Just do it.
   Wow, is that ironic or what? After Game 6, I sure hope I am better than LeBron James. I would like to think I am better than to take personal digs at the people whose support I am looking to gain. It simply does not make sense. It proves one thing: LeBron truly has not matured.
   Champions act like winners both on and off the court. It can be argued that that is why Dirk Nowitzki is where he is right now and why LeBron is where he is. The joint interviews with Dwayne Wade seem to further drive the nail home, when Wade is the one (the only one) to pay respect to the Mavericks, it shows that LeBron needs someone to speak for him. In cases like the above, maybe it is better if someone actually did.
   The world does not look to hate people. We want heroes, and we wanted LeBron to be our hero. Maybe some of us abandoned all hope when all of that talent was taken to South Beach, but I think that most of us were willing to give the Chosen One another shot at destiny. After his personal attack on each one of us, I am not sure that many people are going to be as ready to forgive him.
   Lebron will earn his ring one day, but for that to happen, he needs to learn one simple thing. He could learn it from Nowitzki, or Bill Russell, or even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He needs to realize that champions act like champions, and when that revelation comes, he may find that the world is not so full of critics after all.

Real Live Magic: How We Will Remember Harry Potter

   December 23, 2004 was a big day. Turning eleven was pretty cool, but there was something that came with the big 1 and 1 that I was a little more excited for. As soon as I saw the FedEx man peel out of our neighborhood, I rushed out to the mailbox. It was worth a shot, right? Yeah, definitely. I screeched to a halt in front of the little white tube, and after a quick glance up and down the street, I pulled the door open. Wow, was there a lot of mail. I carefully lifted out the stack and began to rifle through it. Bills, a couple cards, more bills, a few magazines . . . I must have missed it. I went through the stack again. Nothing. Well, maybe one more try. Third time was not the charm.
   I never did get a letter from Hogwarts. I was crushed.
   I will say right now that I am one of the biggest Harry Potter fans to ever dream about receiving that special invitation to the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I have read all the books at least three times, I have been Ron Weasley for Halloween, and as a kid I spent a whole afternoon trying to make the household broom get off the ground. Surprisingly, I was not the only child out there undergoing such misadventures. Harry Potter has flourished into one of the most definitive cultural benchmarks of our generation. Coming from an admitted super-fan, one might point out that such claims are driven by more than a little bias. However, regardless of one’s opinion of the books or movies, it simply cannot be denied that Harry Potter has seen an epidemic-like popularity unlike anything else.
   No one reads anymore. No one. Sure, one might crack open a book or boot up a Kindle on occasion, but most of us simply do not have the time to keep up with a good read. Unless that read is Harry Potter. The series has sold over 400 million copies worldwide, and each book from Goblet of Fire to Deathly Hallows has set the record for the fastest-selling story in history. People were going to midnight parties to get a book; a book that they would read, on top of that. What in the world is that all about? Is it not said that 10% of the population reads 90% of the books? Somehow, the story of Harry Potter had gotten us to read again. Beyond that, it had gotten us to enjoy reading too.
   Sure, not everyone is a reader, but even these folk have been drawn into the wizarding world thanks to the movies. Not every book-to-movie adaptation is a success, and they are rarely considered decent standalone movies. I think it is a general consensus that as a whole, the Harry Potter film series consists of solid cinematic experiences, the highlights seeming to be Prisoner of Azkaban and the most recent Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
   Critical acclaim is rare for movies that have been adapted from writing, simply because straying from the source material is so risky. The Potter films have not only succeeded in telling the young wizard’s tale in a satisfying way, but they have done it while making absolute bank. Each movie ranks in the top 30 on the list of the highest-grossing films in history (notably, Sorcerer’s Stone is #8 and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is #10). That is one film franchise occupying seven of the top thirty spots and two of the top ten spots on that prestigious list. Altogether, the films have grossed nearly 6.4 billion dollars. The next highest-grossing series: James Bond, with only 5 billion to its credit and over three times the movies.
   Harry Potter has undeniably left a big fat stamp on popular culture. For the past 14 years, the world has retreated into a world that I think some of us secretly wished was our own. This world is boring (I mean really, would it have been just too much to give us flying brooms and invisibility cloaks? Just a little spice would be nice), and through J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece we could get a break from the mundane, take up our wands, and join Harry in his fight against Voldemort. It can certainly be argued that other book series have had similar effects, such as Twilight, but what separates Potter from the rest is that the Wizarding World appeals to everyone, and the threat of Voldemort was one that loomed above us normal folk as well as wizards. Instead of honing in on anxious teenage girls, Rowling managed to draw everyday people into her story by generating a conflict that involved each of us. Somehow, we were all drawn inside a world that we should never have believed was real in the first place. Was I the only kid who was secretly expecting a certain letter on his eleventh birthday? Something tells me that I was not.
   On July 15, the final Harry Potter movie will be released. Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has called itself “the motion picture event of a generation” as “the conclusion of the worldwide phenomenon”. Whoa. Sounds pretty cocky of the advertising team, does it not? Sure, but do they have a point? Deathly Hallows: Part 2 marks what is very likely to be the final time the tale of Harry Potter will be told to the public. The theme park in Orlando will still be there, of course, but after the movie leaves theaters, it’s just about over. That is it. No more Harry Potter. All we will have left to do afterward is remember.
   Like many people, I waited in line at midnight to get the last Harry Potter book. Not wanting to wait until the next day to get reading, I told myself that I would read the first chapter only, and then read the book all the way to the end the next day. I sat up in bed, the hour now well past 1:00 am, and flipped open the cover to read the message on the jacket: We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter. This was it. After this, the story was over; it was the end of the road. I stuck to my plan, and when I had finally finished the book the next night, I am not ashamed to say I darned near cried.
   I remembered how just two years earlier I had opened that mailbox and been quietly heartbroken. Somehow, finishing Book 7 was higher than that letterless day on the bummer-list. Maybe it was because the eleven-year-old me knew deep down that it was simply impossible for such a fantastical school such as Hogwarts to exist; that probably eased the blow a little bit. But now, there was nothing but a long life ahead without Harry, Ron, and Hermione. No more midnight release parties, no more getting grounded for being caught at 2:00 am “finishing the chapter” (true story, by the way, I ended up missing out on a Phoenix Suns game my dad had found tickets to. He took a friend instead), and no more quietly sneaking into my sister’s room while she was at swimming to nab the new book and forego “waiting my turn” (also true, maybe I had an obsession, but you can blame it on youth). The run was over.
   The movies have served to rekindle the love affair between myself and the series, but in two short months, even this outlet will be gone. Aside from Orlando, all that will be left of Harry Potter is the countless memories of fans all over the world. Together, we will remember how the story of a young wizard struck the fancy of millions upon millions of people. It got us to read again, for crying out loud.
   In an age where fads come and go faster than most of us can keep up, it is very rare that something holds our attention for more than a few months. But Harry Potter is well into its fourteenth year, and now has seven books, eight movies, and an entire theme park to its credit. In these times especially, it is truly special to see something become so beloved over such a long period of time. With the tale of the Boy Who Lived, we have come across the very thing that has defined our generation. It has been incredible.
   This summer, our journey with Harry ends. We may forget certain details of his adventures, but we will not forget the indelible mark the boy has had on our culture. There has never been, and there likely never will be, anything quite like it. But those seven books will stay on the shelf, and a lot of us will grow up and share Harry Potter’s awe-inspiring tale with our own children. Maybe in that way, we can pass on some of the wonder we had experienced ourselves as we accompanied our hero through his years at Hogwarts. It can be our way to relive the classic adventure.
   Somewhere down the road, I am probably going to get married, settle down somewhere, and have a couple of kids. As any true fan would, I will without fail share Harry Potter with my children. And when they turn eleven, I hope they run out and check the mailbox. When they do, I’ll probably head on out there with them. You know, just in case.

Summer of Nerd 2011: The Lamest Movie Preview Ever

   They are a threatened species, constantly under abuse, ridicule, rejection, and persecution. Their only sense of safety comes when they remain in groups; security is accompanied by those like them. Unlike most other mammals, they are perhaps least active during the summer months, as opposed to the winter. They are rarely seen in the wild, and their habitat (in the worst of cases) is envisioned as dark, smelly, and dirty. But good luck trying to see one of their enclosures yourself, for this particular species can be considered quite territorial when others set foot on its turf.
   Indeed, the natural enigma that is the “nerd” has puzzled many an adolescent for quite some time. Nerds vary in degree, to those who might boot up an Xbox from time to time, to the pizza box-stacking, Mountain Dew-guzzling variety who tend to shrink away from the sun itself. Luckily, the individuals usually confined to dark, enclosed spaces now have every reason to get out of the house. Why? Because it is summer, my sleep-deprived friend, and for the next three months, the local movie theater is going to evolve into a haven where even the most socially-inept among us can feel right at home.
   It is the Summer of the Nerd, and all the “cool” people better put on those knock-off sunglasses of theirs, because the nerds among us are going to feel right at home.

X-Men: First Class-A nice, healthy warm-up
   What’s better than a movie about one superhero? A movie about fifteen superheroes! The X-Men franchise is looking to get a reboot out of this new prequel, and it should serve well to reboot a few human beings back into the social scene too. Fans of the series will eat up the sheer amount of mutant-info, but even those unfamiliar with the X-Men universe should enjoy the action. It should at least be worth your ticket price.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10
   Release: June 3

Super 8-The summer’s most enticing mystery
   J.J. Abrams could not even stay away. The acclaimed sci-fi writer/director is back with his latest project, and when you add Steven Spielberg to the mix you have a film that could attract some serious nerdage. Abrams has kept Super 8 on serious lockdown, so much so that it was rumored that anyone who divulged any information on the movie would be terminated (as in fired, not . . . you know, the other thing . . . just trying to keep my audience in mind, alright?). Whether it’s about an alien or a monster or something else entirely, this one will draw audiences on sheer intrigue alone. Get excited, because this might just be a movie you could take a girl to without feeling like too big of a dork.
   Nerd-o-meter: 6/10
   Release: June 10

The Green Lantern-Cue cult-following emergence
   If you know who the Green Lantern is, congratulations. Unfortunately, one of the coolest superheroes out there is probably one of the most lesser-known. This particular movie follows the Hal Jordan “version” of the superhero, and everyone knows that’s a smart move, as Hal Jordan is the first human to wear the power ring. What’s that? You did not know that? Well, non-fans of Green Lantern might want to use caution with this one, because the whole premise of this movie screams nerd. Hal is a pretty cool superhero, but it takes a lot of guts to admit you know what he is all about. That girl you might take to Super 8? She can sit this one out. Unless she likes Ryan Reynolds (well, maybe that is even more of a reason not to bring her).
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10
   Release: June 17

Transformers: Dark of the Moon-The movie you don’t want to see but know you will
   When the first Transformers film came out, nerds went to it because they wanted to see a bunch of robots beat the wiring out of each other. When the second movie came out, nerds went to it because they wanted to see Megan Fox. No one is really sure why they are going to see this movie, they just know they are going. If the second movie is any indication, we are looking at another two and a half hours of mindless explosions held together with the thinnest plot possible. Robots escaping other robots come to Earth, and the other robots find them and want to get rid of them, and we all pay the damage costs. We all may know the story, but the nerd knows that behind this is some good ol’ Transformers lore. Everyone else might want to stand back.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10
   Release: June 29

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II-It makes us all nerds
   Oh yeah, I am there already. You are there already too. Does that make us both nerds? Of course it does. Does anyone care? No. Not if you are seeing this movie. It is Harry freaking Potter for the last freaking time and all the haters can stand back because the nerd in all of us is taking over. Get. Pumped.
   Nerd-o-meter: 8/10
                Showing up in full costume: 10/10
   Release: July 15 (also known as the Best Day Ever)

Captain America: The First Avenger-This is why you love America
   This is probably the most promising superhero movie of the summer. Unlike the Green Lantern, who might find it difficult to pick up fans outside of Azeroth (if you understood that joke, you are pathetic. Also, zing!), Captain America is a hero who will attract audiences from across the social spectrum. The film looks promising already, with plenty of hidden Marvel “Easter eggs” to go with its mass appeal. What that means, men, is that there are actually worse movies to ask that girl to see with you (You feel that? That’s called hope, enjoy it). At its heart it might be a nerdy movie, but Captain America is looking to be a pretty dang good one. Drop those sunglasses for a second, because you will want to keep this one in your line of sight.
   Nerd-o-meter: 7/10
   Release: July 22

Cowboys & Aliens-The name speaks for itself
   Do I really need to give an explanation? It is a movie based on a comic book about a bunch of cowboys fighting a bunch of aliens. That is about all there is to that story, but that is all anyone, especially a good-hearted nerd, needs. The phrase “popcorn action movie” definitely applies to this one, and the result could be some very good fun or some very stupid moviemaking. If it acknowledges its own ridiculous nature, this could be decent movie, but if not, it could get really obnoxious really fast. For now, put it on potential sleeper alert.
   Nerd-o-meter: 8/10
   Release: July 29

Rise of the Planet of the Apes-The title-writer was obviously fired
   To be fair, this does not have to be a nerdy movie. You could just be a fan of the original Planet of the Apes, and are hoping that James Franco and Co. can do the 1968 version justice. However, upon further investigation into this movie’s plot, it might be hard to sit through it without feeling somewhat dorky. A movie about some genetically-enhanced primates taking revenge on the humans who experimented on them sounds like some good, clean, nerdy fun to me. The effects will be spectacular, but it might be hard to look past the ridiculous storyline. Nerds should rejoice, but others should use caution.
   Nerd-o-meter: 9/10
   Release: August 5

Conan the Barbarian-The grand finale
   Every self-respecting nerd has heard the fantastical tale of Conan the barbarian. He has been in movies, video games, and even comic books. Everything you can possibly imagine has somehow had a Conan-esque take. This movie looks to revive the classic hero and forge his legend into something epic. You want mythical monsters? It has those. You want oversized weapons? It has those. You want girls that you want to say are hot but are afraid to because they might not be human? It has those. You want one man using those oversized weapons to kill those mythical monsters and save those hot women? Conan will do all of that. The Summer of Nerd concludes with a movie that ought to make any nerd hit their knees in awe. You want paradise? Consider it found.
   Nerd-o-meter: 10/10
   Release: August 19

   You feel that? That’s your inner nerd, waking from its deep slumber. It is tired of being locked up. It wants out. It wants to go out and sate its hunger for nerdy things. And you are going to head right on over to the movies and you are going to satisfy it to its little heart’s content with things that you might reject on the outside, but love on the inside. You better get going, because you have a lot of work to do.
   Just put some sunscreen on before you go out, ok?