DFTBWhat?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Nerdfighteria lately. On Sunday I went to Cadogan Hall for my first Nerdfighter Gathering, with my friend Caroline (who introduced me to the VlogBrothers; her Tumblr about YouTube is here), and got to see John and Hank Green in real life. It was a wonderful day: Hank sang, John read from The Fault in Our Stars, and Maureen Johnson joined them for a Q & A. Hank did some Watsky. John slapped Hank. 500 Miles by The Proclaimers was sung. And I got my An Abundance of Katherines signed and Hanklerfished. In addition to this awesomeness, Nerdfighteria has been at the forefront of my mind due to the last two episodes of Becoming YouTube (an excellent documentary which can be seen here), which have been almost entirely about the VlogBrothers and the ‘accidental movement’ surrounding them.

These episodes (Episodes 5 and 6) talk about the definition of a Nerdfighter, the kind of people who become Nerdfighters, and the good and bad facets of Nerdfighteria. The main things that struck me, in Episode 5 especially, was how Nerdfighteria is perceived by those who do not define themselves as Nerdfighters, and how those who are outside of the movement are perhaps more aware of the negative impacts of Nerdfighteria than those within it.

I myself have only recently become a Nerdfighter, but before then I didn’t know what one was, who the VlogBrothers were, or even what a YouTuber was. As such I have no experience of being on the outside of Nerdfighteria looking in, because I didn’t know that there was an outside. But as soon as I knew what a Nerdfighter was, I became one; Nerdfighteria is just where I belong.

But I can see how Nerdfighteria may appear to those who are not citizens. And I don’t think that this is a perception problem, really, as in ‘people are scared of things they don’t understand’, a statement which I very rarely make due to disliking it intensely. The central concept of a Nerdfighter is not a difficult one to grasp; we just want to be awesome and not suck, right? (I’d never actually heard a definition of ‘Nerdfighter’ involving a liking of Doctor Who or Harry Potter until Becoming YouTube; is that really a thing?)

As was touched on in Becoming YouTube, all groups of people have a small minority who are, erm, d**ks. Maybe our catchphrase is ‘Don’t forget to be awesome!’ because it is such an easy thing to forget to be. And just because Nerdfighters are supposed to be made of awesome doesn’t mean that they can’t occasionally be giant squids of anger, or even Decepticons.

The last sentence is probably part of the problem as well. Nerdfighteria is a world of in-jokes, a world where non-Nerdfighters, and, indeed, any Nerdfighter who hasn’t seen EVERY SINGLE ONE of the VlogBrothers videos (which is the majority of us, I presume) will often feel at best bemused, and at worst, completely left out, by all of the ‘DFTBA’s, ‘Hanklerfish’ and ‘Who the F is Hank’?s. And there can sometimes be a sort of snobbery in Nerdfighteria, a bit of looking down on someone who just doesn’t get it all.

I have been guilty of this myself, when Caroline didn’t understand why I was so excited about finding Peeps in London. But my knowledge of Peeps does not make me a better nerdfighter than her, and my goal of seeing every single VlogBrothers video (I currently have around 200 to go) will not make me a better Nerdfighter. I am just a Nerdfighter. There is no scale of awesome.

So if some of what I have said in this blog does not make sense to you, that is fine. If you are interested, feel free to ask me, or ask Google, or visit the VlogBrothers YouTube channel. But you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter; it won’t make you a better person, and it doesn’t mean you can’t be a Nerdfighter. And you don’t have to be a Nerdfighter if you don’t want to. None of this is particularly important.

All that matters is that we try to be as awesome as we can.

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YouTube is Made of Awesome

Recently I have been spending an awful lot of time with YouTube. I have been acquainted with YouTube for years, mainly using it for old Donald O’Connor and Morecambe and Wise clips, but this year our relationship has become slightly more serious. I blame my friend Caroline for this (you can see her Tumblr here); she gave me a list of content creators whose videos she thought I might enjoy, and I said I would look them up.

And the rest is history.

I love Meekakitty and Nanalew‘s channels, and BriTANick and TomSka‘s. I am discovering new channels daily. And I am a Nerdfighter. A Peeps-eating, Nerdfighter-Gathering-attending, Accio-Deathly-Hallows-singing Nerdfighter. I am watching the Vlogbrothers videos in order, and am currently spending a lot of time in 2010.

There is no hope for me. I am lost in a sea of sketches, vlogs and music videos. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and I plan on dragging as many people as possible down here with me.

So why not give it a try? There is something for everyone here, stuff that will make you laugh, stuff that will make you cry, and, of course, stuff that will make you despair of humanity. But don’t despair for too long, because, look, here’s an introduction to nerdfighting. You will be very welcome in Nerdfighteria and it’s very difficult to despair of humanity when there is so much awesome around.

Best wishes!

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The Shows That I Loved

I’m not going to lie: I still watch children’s TV. Quite a lot of it. There are a lot of great dramas and comedies around on CBBC, and I still enjoy them even though I am no longer in the target audience. Horrible Histories is a great reason why I’m not at all ashamed of this; lots of adults love Horrible Histories. It’s funny, interesting and, I believe, the best sketch show on TV. I also regularly watch Wolfblood, The 4 O’Clock Club and Leonardo. They are all excellent. So there.

But this isn’t a post about the greatness of present CBBC programming (although present CBBC programming is great and well worth postage). This is a post about the programming of my youth (and, er, up to a few months ago). This is a post about the shows that are no longer being made, only repeated, and those that are now forgotten except in the minds of those who loved them. Below are the shows that I loved, and the shows that I miss.

10.   Ugetme

A CBBC show about kids running a radio station. It had a really superb cast including Reggie Yates, Luke Bailey and Dominique Moore, and I think it used to run in 15 minute bursts.

9.     My Parents are Aliens

One of the two CITV shows to make my list, and arguably the channel’s biggest success. Well-written, very funny, and no matter how often I see Tony Gardner in The Thick of It, Lead Balloon or Fresh Meat, he is always Brian to me.

8.    Animorphs

I loved the books when I was growing up, and I loved the TV series too. Every couple of months one of the main cast members will randomly appear in one of the many American TV shows I watch, and I will freak out completely.

7.     The Sarah Jane Adventures

Cut short in its prime due to the untimely death of Elizabeth Sladen. A worthy addition to the Doctor Who family with several characters and stories from its famous parent appearing, including The Doctor himself. Also, I hope for great things from Daniel Anthony in the future; I think he’s got the potential to be a really great actor.

6.    The Story of Tracy Beaker and Tracy Beaker Returns

I grew up with Tracy Beaker on TV; most shows with child actors seem to have to end after a year or two due to the obvious over-aging of the cast, so I think that these two shows lasting for ten years with the same lead is an amazing achievement. There is going to be a further spin-off called The Dumping Ground apparently, sans Tracy Beaker, but as this hasn’t been on TV yet I have decided that these shows are still eligible for my list of ended shows. Oh, and Richard Wisker? Going to be a great actor.

5.     Bootleg

This was a three-part BBC series from 2002 and was about a revolution after the government bans chocolate (great description, Mouse). I can still quote large chunks of the script, and it starred Martin Jarvis and Jemma Jones. Perfect.

4.     24Seven

The other CITV show to make my list, this was set in a boarding school, an awesome boarding school that I wanted to go to. I remember that the theme tune was by Dane Bowers, and it turns out I can remember all the lyrics as well ( I just tested this).

3.     Jeopardy

We’re getting down to the shows which I would defend to the death now, the shows that my life is better for having seen. Jeopardy was a drama where eight Falkirk teenagers went on a trip to the Australian outback to look for UFOs. It was pretty scary and exciting, and ran for three superb series. I loved all the characters and looked forward to each episode in a way that I do not think I experienced again until Doctor Who started.

2.    Big Kids

Okay, now this is, in my opinion, the best written children’s TV show ever. It starred the ridiculously brilliant Imogen Stubbs and Duncan Duff as two parents who were hypnotised and then regressed into childhood whenever anybody said the syllable ‘ming’, leading to much amusement and embarrassment for their two children. Only ran for one series, one series that I have watched at least ten times.

1.    Out There

This was an Australian show centred around four kids: two Australians, an American and a Brit (played by Jade Ewen from the Sugababes, fact fans). So well written. So funny. I used to think Miller was the best character in existence in the world, and part of me still does. Convinced me that being a mouse was absolutely fine (only somebody who remembers the show really well will know what the hell I am talking about here). Oh, and it had the best theme song ever. Maybe, maybe, maybe I don’t wanna be like you.

There are a few others I feel I have to mention that I loved and just didn’t quite make my Top Ten: Black Hole High, Desperados, Even Stevens, Feather Boy, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Ghost Hunter, Girls in Love, I Dream, Kenan and Kel, Kerching!, Roman Mysteries, Round the Twist, Shoebox Zoo, Sir Gadabout, Student Bodies, Yo! Diary and Young Dracula. There y’go, all mentioned.

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Sir Patrick Stewart, Emperor of Torchbearers

Yesterday the Torch Relay passed through Croydon, my home town. My dad and I had planned to go to the High Street to see it, but when I read that Sir Patrick Stewart was going to be carrying the torch in a different area of town, I decided that we just had to go where he was.

I am a big Shakespeare geek so what better Torchbearer for me than one of the World’s greatest Shakespearean actors?

It was the perfect way to get me ridiculously excited about the Games. The atmosphere was amazing and we had a great view of everything; we were next to a park, there were lots of families having picnics, it wasn’t too crowded and everyone was friendly. The best possible spot, basically. And a wonderful, memorable day.

But I have an admission to make: I didn’t notice the torch. Or the flame.  Sir Patrick Stewart could have been carrying a bunch of flowers for all I knew.

I’d like to say that the symbolism of the torch meant so much to me that the actual torch was insignificant in comparison, that I was carried away by the occasion, and that it is what the flame stands for as opposed to the flame itself which is important. And this would be great, and I could spend the rest of this post talking about hope, and teamwork, and friendship, and other such lovely things.

But I suspect that what actually happened is that I am not the most observant person at the best of times, and at this time I was in the presence of Sir Patrick Stewart.

A duck could have landed on my head and I wouldn’t have noticed.

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Things I Would Like to Tell My Teenage Self (If She’d Deign to Listen)

  1. Stop trying to be normal; there’s no such thing.
  2. Don’t feel embarrassed about walking around on your own in crowds of people. It’s fine; grown-ups do it all the time.
  3. In 2004 a play called The History Boys is going to open at the National Theatre. Make sure you see it. With the original cast. This is important.
  4. Stay in touch with friends and family. If you could develop a love of letter-writing this would help immensely, but I mustn’t expect miracles.
  5. When Out of Control is on the BBC make sure you record it. I think it was on in 2002, and it stars Tamzin Outhwaite, but that’s all the help I can give you.
  6. Don’t pick that spot on your nose; it will leave a scar.
  7. Don’t wash your hair every day; you’re making it greasy. Once every two days is fine.
  8. Stop forcing yourself to finish Lord of the Rings. In 2011 you’re going to find a map of Middle Earth in a charity shop which will make the whole thing much easier; wait ’til then.
  9. On a similar note, when you start reading Discworld books don’t start with The Colour of Magic. Go for The Truth, then Going Postal, and then go back to The Colour of Magic and the rest.
  10. You’re going to spend many years trying to figure out the best way to revise for exams; I can help you there. It turns out you have quite a good memory, so just write out everything you need to learn on cue cards and memorise them. This sounds difficult and time-consuming, but you will actually find it very easy. Stay away from mind maps, they will do nothing but use up your gel pens.
  11. No matter what your A Level results are, go to the University of Essex. You will love it there; it is absolutely the best place for you.
  12. You don’t watch too much TV. You watch exactly the right amount of TV for a person with your interests.
  13. Somebody called Natasha is going to tell you what happens in the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer about a year before you get to see it. You must stop her. Punch her, kill her, anything. Good luck.
  14. Don’t get too annoyed at your parents. They are occasionally right.
  15. You don’t need any inflatable furniture; it’s just a fad. A space-consuming fad.
  16. Your instincts are often correct.
  17. You’re never going to be loud and popular. Deal with it.
  18. In 2012 you’re going to decide to start a blog. If possible start it before you go to the Globe to Globe Festival at Shakespeare’s Globe, so you have something interesting to write about. Starting it over a month later is not useful.
  19. Don’t worry so much; nothing is actually as bad or as good as you think it is. Mostly everything is just okay.
  20. Living doesn’t get any easier as you get older, but you do get more used to it.

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