A dad short of dough, trying to build things. A son making contraptions on his own. A man with an affinity for Elf culture. A kid strategizing how to get the perfect gift. A reclusive green grump with a knack for sewing. A king experimenting with holiday traditions. A big city cop busting terrorists at a Christmas party. A mythical creature who gets creative and ornery after eating late-night snacks.
Geeks. All of them.
Only one can be the geekiest, however. After three days of voting characters off the GeekDad island, readers have determined the one to rule them all. All hail …
The Geekiest Holiday Movie Character
Ralphie survived a field of eight iconic winter holiday movie characters to claim the honor. He entered the bracket as the lowest seed, by virtue of the shoestring budget given to A Christmas Story (1983). Along the way, Ralphie ate the Grinch for lunch (like so much leftover Roast Beast) and then shut the magical portal door on Jack Skellington. In the finals, Buddy the Elf — who barely edged Kevin McCallister and John McClane during his own journey to the finals — quickly fell behind quota and was sent to the mailroom with just 40% of the vote.
A Christmas Story, based on a book by the narrator, Jean Shepherd, tells the tale of the holiday season our own parents might have experienced when they were kids. This gives Ralphie a nice trans-generational appeal, as both the inner child we try to preserve and the purveyor of toys long forgotten.
Let’s take a look at how Ralphie stacks up against the GeekDad’s seven core competencies:
Puzzles & Logic
Planting the seed of geekdom, Ralphie spends years watching his father complete puzzles in the local paper. He witnesses the reward for his father’s keen intellect when the major award (i.e., electric sex) shows up one evening, the prize for completing some crossword puzzle sponsored by Nehi. Ralphie exhibits his own cryptographic skills with Little Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder pin, revealing a stupid commercial as the payoff. His strategic skills are evident everywhere, too, as he uses every available channel (breakfast conversation, subscription magazines, writing assignments, a trip to the mall) to jockey for the gift he ultimately receives.
The new list of Kickstarter projects curated by GeekDad is just one example of how much we geeks like to build things, or see them be built. Ralphie’s upbringing is forged in self-reliance, exemplified best by his father’s fierce furnace fighting and frequency in changing tires with patchwork spares.
Ralphie is immersed in popular culture. He religiously listens to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, choosing it over electric sex (i.e. major award) and succumbing to merchandising. Ralphie is also a fanboy of Flash Gordon and Red Ryder, owner of the famed Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time.
Technology & Gadgets
There were no iThings in Ralphie’s time (ambiguously set just before World War II), but he embraced what he could. In addition to being able to recite all the features of the top-of-the-line toy, Ralphie was in a radio family (the Big Three television networks were only beginning to experiment with stations; there were only 7,000 sets on the market until the boom started in 1942). His father gives off the vibe of an early adopter, but one who is stubbornly committed to squeezing long-term value out of technology like furnaces and cars. If he had been alive today, his iMac would now have a life as a Linux media server.
Science & Experimentation
Ralphie is a participant observer in a test of Flick’s hypothesis that a human tongue will not stick to a frozen flagpole (myth busted). Ralphie demonstrates his ability to form a taxonomy in categorizing the many properties of soap, and clearly, he understands the law of gravity when concocting his icicle-hit-me cover story for nearly shooting his eye out. The boy’s relentless pursuit of his Red Ryder BB Gun is also evidence of his trial-and-error mindset.
This is Ralphie’s weakest category. While he clearly has a fervent creative mind, he non-verbally scoffs at the role-playing game his mom concocts for Randy when his brother won’t eat. Similarly, there is no appropriation of an unwanted gift by filling his playtime with tales of killer fluffy pink rabbits or invented superheros from the planet of Pink Bunnies. This is not a future WoW guild member.
I submit for your approval: His father’s radiance watching Ralphie explore his prized gift, his mother’s handling of the Scut Farkus affair, and the laughter of a family chased into a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day by a bunch of bloodhounds. We’ll accept a fictional trajectory of strong family relationships, even though the real guy didn’t seem to have that fortune.
A big thanks to Quipol, the Indiana startup facilitating the social polling for the seven individual face-offs in this Geek Battle.