Tuesday, February 23, 2016

245–249: Calvalcade of Nerddom

A whole lot of nerdy allusions are packed into these few pages. Most of them don’t lend themselves to a full post, so I’ve combined them all here in rapid-fire succession. If The Billionth Monkey is ever made into a movie, this section should run alongside the end credits. :)

Page 245
  • Georg Cantor (1845–1918) was a German mathematician who invented set theory, including the idea that infinite sets can be of different sizes and the existence of an “infinity of infinities.” Personally, I’m especially fond of Cantor dust.
Page 246
  • Goggle Glasses: This is a play on words for Google Glass, the wearable computer built into what looks like a pair of spectacles. Given that “Google” resembles goggle, I thought that Goggle Glasses was a funny, if redundant, name for its fictional analog.
  • Glycon was a snake god whose cult, according to the Greek satirist Lucian, was a hoax perpetrated with a hand puppet. After writer Alan Moore came out as a magician in 1993, he was attracted to the idea of a god that is fake except in concept and that currently has no other followers, and thus declared himself a devotee of Glycon. Here is Pagan Dawn’s brand-new interview with Moore, in which he elaborates on Glycon some twenty years on (along with many other interesting topics).
  • Hagrid about to ride Sirius Black’s motorbike: This references the flying motorcycle that Hagrid operates in the Harry Potter movies/stories. It is also a pun on the idea that once you put a pair of goggles on our hermit, he resembles Hagrid more than Alan Moore


Page 247

  • Tomb of Horrors was an early Dungeons & Dragons module, S1, written by Gary Gygax in 1975. It still ranks as one of the top D&D advantures.
  • Ewoks on the Galactic Senate: This dialog came from an actual dinnertime conversation between my wife and me. I may be a Star Wars fan, but she leaves me in the dust. Plus she has a great sense of humor. I am a lucky man.

Page 248
  • Mountain Dew: Along with Cheetos, it’s a staple of Dungeons & Dragons gaming sessions everywhere. For proof, I submit the following for your consideration:

  • Natural 1: In D&D, “natural” refers to the number resulting from a die roll without any modifiers, e.g. not counting for that +1 greatsword. With a 20-sided die, values of 1 and 20 are often given special treatment, and treated as “critical” roles. In these cases, a 20 would refer to a critical hit, while a 1 would refer to a critical fail…fumbling one’s weapon, the blade breaking, or some other extreme mishap.

Both of these memes joke about rolling a "natural 1." (Image source: IFL Role-Playing.)
  • p’tak: Also spelled petaQ, Pahtak, Pathak, p’tahk, etc., this is a Klingon insult or curse word that you would call somebody. And exact translation is unavailable.

Page 249
  • Andúril, or the Flame of the West, is Aragorn’s sword which was reforged from the shards of Narsil, the sword with whose stub Isuldur defeated Sauron by cutting the One Ring from his hand. A copy was available from Museum Replicas.

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