Guilty Pleasures & Personal Geek Evolution: Nerd Nostalgia Open Thread!


Today I came across these reinventions of Bill Watterson’s now timeless comic classic, and I got to thinkin.’

Looking back at my formative years, hardly anything made more of an impact on young geek me than the comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes.


In retrospect, Hobbes was clearly the ego to Calvin’s id (those are technical terms for grown-ups). Turns out my fave comic was a treatise on maturity, aesthetics and existential angst. Not just how to make the exactly-fucking-perfect-snowball. Weird.

I realize now that Hobbes (the sometimes tiny tiger stuffed animal, sometimes actual tiger) wasn’t even actually there, he was just some lofty manifestation of a little cartoon dude’s psyche. And young geek me feels a bit betrayed…but I guess this is growing up or something.

Looking back at Calvin & Hobbes today, I find myself drunk with intense, ethereal nostalgia. It’s good I realized all of this philosophical junk, because I can be totally pretentious about it in a smart, ironic self-aware way now that makes it okay to shamelessly read a comic strip about an pre-adolescent boy and his toy tiger.



Calvin & Hobbes is certainly among my most beloved early brushes with geekdom, but I want to know: What’s your favorite little chunk of geek nostalgia? Or big chunk! Or like 25 chunks! Or a million little pieces!

This is a no-holds-barred time to tell us: What brings you back? A comic strip? A video game? A bio class? Or something shiny and electronic, perhaps? C’mon, fess up- we’re just getting started!

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Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. Taylor, I’m going to write more later because I’m running out the door but I just had to tell you that OMG WE ARE THE SAME PERSON I THINK, POSSIBLY? Calvin and Hobbes was one of the biggest things about my childhood. Srsly.

  2. fuck man, just looking at PICTURES of calvin & hobbes like, MOVES me. makes me want to go dig out all my old books, especially the big ones with the huge colour pictures that used words in their titles i didn’t quite understand at the time but still appreciated, like indispensable. there was so much more going on than i ever realized, that reading them again as an adult they still blow me away. i’m proud to say that i actually used the word “transmogrifier,” IN context, recently. did you ever try and mimic his snow men? i tried to do that scene where the guy gets shot through the stomach with a snow cannon, but i could never get it as perfect as calvin did.

  3. Oh man. Memories. I was the only kid in the “gifted program” in elementary school. This meant that I didn’t have to deal with silly things like class. I got to go where I wanted and do what I wanted for the entire school day. What would I do with such a freedom? One might think that the possibilites were endless. They were. But I’m ridiculous (read “the coolest person ever”) because I just played Oregon Trail and Odell Lake in the library for hours and hours and hours.

    • Gifties unite!
      You were the only one and they still had a class for you? That’s terrible/awesome (but not in the usual context). My gifted class was smallish, but like yours we didn’t do class things. Grade 7 we did film: we accomplished no math and minimal science, and made movies for most of the year.
      Grade 8 was the buisness unit where we watched the apprentice and planned/marketed/pulled off a fair at our school for charity.
      I think this is why I still totally nerd out on buisness articles and the aprentice.

      In conclusion, gifties FTW.

  4. also: BEAKMAN’S WORLD. forget bill nye, man, Beakman was the OG. i still do this trick that i learned from that show, and i seriously impress the shit out of people with it TO THIS DAY. #RoyG.Biv

  5. When I was about 5 years old my mom bought me this old school video game console called the Sega Pico and in 1995 it was SO futuristic. I played a lot of sonic the hedgehog after kindergarten.
    Everytime I see it stashed under my t.v I have to fight the urge not to dig it out and play it for HOURS.

  6. one word: MS DOS. Oh wait, that’s two words.
    Anyways.Even as a kid I spended hours in front of the computer, playing games like pac man and space invaders and solidaire. I even practiced my numbers on it, hah.
    I also remember one time I saw a political debate of some sorts on television and I reenacted it later with my sisters barbies (since the politicians were almost all men with mustaches, I drew mustaches on my sister’s barbies)

    • SRSLY just thinking of DOS games makes my heart swell. My dad was any early adopter of computers, so I started playing DOS games with my brother at age 3. I have such a warm, happy memory of us sitting on our dad’s lap, at his desk in the basement of the house I grew up in, playing Gorillas (right after watching The Simpsons, before 9 PM bedtime).


  7. The first console we had growing up was a Sega Master System. On it, there was a “hidden” maze game that you could unlock. I spent hours playing that game. It was the most basic thing ever, just a blue screen with a bunch of white lines. At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing.

  8. -Kid Pix on a floppy disc.
    -In elementary school, I wouldn’t talk to kids, so they were just like “Go play on the computer.” Which apparently, I loved. So much in fact that they let me take computer classes instead of English.
    -N64 Zelda.
    -Lots of time with boys.

  9. Omg Frogger! That is like my earliest gaming memory. On a old bbc computer, that used the giant floppy discs. We were only allowed ‘educational’ games so had ones like Settlers, and that taught you about clouds and metereology, and this ridiculous one called Kraken. After the delight of CD-Rom I played a lot of Helicop where you had to go around shooting letters and numbers to spell or solve maths problems. In retrospect it was kind of shit. We didn’t have a tv, so I never had any games consoles which I think is part of why I have an N64 and a Sega now. The other part is becuase they are awesome.

  10. We weren’t allowed to have video games but we could have computer games deemed educational in some sense, there was a game called Black Cauldron and I remember it had a 1-900 number for tips, and when we’d get stuck we’d have to beg and plead with our parents to let us call the number for tips, which they considered a gigantoid waste of money. I think about that sometimes ’cause it’s crazy how the internet has made shit like that obsolete, can you imagine paying for tips?

  11. My world view shifted a little bit when I started studying John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes and had to reconcile my experiences with ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ with the dead white men they were named after. I’ve recovered, but there was a bit of trauma.

    My geekiest obsession is time travel and parallel universes, which started when at a very young age I discovered the Back to the Future movies (basically the most awesome movies ever!). To this day I still tell anyone who will listen that when Marty jumps into the DeLorean to escape the plutonium gangsters, the current date showing on the DeLorean screen is my exact date of birth (day, month, YEAR, that’s right).

      • Philosophy, really? Like what type? I have a degree in continental (don’t judge) philosophy of ethics and religion [Levinas (ethics) and Derrida (religion)]. I was all up in that shit. I double majored along w/poli sci so that’s where Hobbes came in. SO MUCH TRAUMA. Eek.

        • i minored in it, rendering it even more useless in a practical sense. just your standard ethics/metaphysics/phenomenology, etc. with a heavy continental bias too. also, I took an entire class on Kant’s critique of pure reason. WHY DID I DO THAT? weirdest decision ever.

          i think one of my all time fave pretentious titles is still Kant’s “Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics.” fuck if I know what that’s about.

          that Kant class probably produced some of the funniest cartoons I have ever drawn in the margins of my notebook.

          • Ya, that class would be a nightmare. Kant is a bit of a bore. My fave pretentious titles come from Nietzshe’s Ecce Homo though – “Why I Am So Wise”, “Why I Am So Clever”, “Why I Write Such Good Books” and “Why I Am a Destiny,” FTW.

  12. I had an obsession with The Secret of Monkey Island from a young age. Especially insult sword fighting, best response ever = ‘How appropriate, you fight like a cow’
    LucasArts games were the bestest.

    Also I had an obsession with the Karate Kid and re-enacted the story with lego people.

  13. playing the orginal Mario Bros. for NES with my big brother would cause a competitive spirit (exclusive to video games) to fester between us that has endured to the present day! It’s a serious problem at family gatherings where there is a TV and any console.

  14. I definitely had a huge obsession with reading, especially Animorphs. I almost convinced myself that I had morphing powers as well and was half way tempted to jump into Shamu’s tank to test them. I also named my dog after the character Cassie so everytime I took her for a walk was an adventure in my demented imagination.

  15. Ahh Calvin and Hobbes makes my heart melt a bit to this day. I used to read those books over and over.

    I think my earliest geek memory was getting an OG Nintendo for Christmas. Duck Hunt was alright, but it was Mario that I couldn’t stop playing. I’d go for hours and hours at a time just trying to make it to the final castle. In fact, the sad part of it is, I don’t think I ever made it there. The Princess was locked in the dungeon forever, all because of me..

    Another one that gets me is the memory of my mom blowing into a shiny gold Nintendo diskette and then holding down the Select button when she’d put it in so she could pick up where she left off. The music of The Legend of Zelda is an instant time machine. I’d sit watching her play for hours. Remember how Link would fall down through black with the Tri Force raised high over his head? Aw man. I eventually started my own game and.. come to think of it.. I never rescued ~that princess either…

  16. one wknd in ’89, my mom had to put our dog to sleep and she was really sad, so she made my stepdad buy us the NES so we’d leave her alone and she could cry all day in the bathroom. my favorite game was Mickey Mouscapades because everyone else hated it, which meant i got further on it than my stupid brothers did, unlike Super Mario Bros., which I sucked at.

    then one day, we got Legend of Zelda and everyone lost their minds for a few months — all anyone in my family did was play that game. my stepdad was obsessed, to the point of drawing maps of every screen on a legal pad with carefully illustrated bushes — the ones you had to burn were in red, obvs. he’d stay up until 3 a.m. playing Zelda.

    • i played this way weird DOS ‘game’ that totally blew my mind at the time where you typed in questions, pressed enter and then a robotic, otherworldly force would answer you. of course we always typed in misguided sexual questions for some reason. later AOL had something like this that you could IM…and it was still entertaining. i don’t know why.

  17. that movie The Wizard? that movie blew my mind. VIDEO ARMAGEDDON! how did he know about the whistle, mario 3 wasn’t even out yet! i wanted a Power Glove so badly after that. it’s no surprise the Power Glove didn’t really take off with the people though, in retrospect it was pretty ridiculous.

    • I still love robots pretty much more than anything, its ridiculous. Had this convo this afternoon with one of my friends:
      Her: “I have a present for you, but don’t build it up it could be a bit of a let down.”
      Me: “What is it?”
      Her: “A picture of a robot.”
      Me: ” How could a picture of a robot ever be a let down?”

      This whole thread is making me so happy, and making the library wayy more bearable. Also I wish I was a robot right now so I could stop my avatar changing randomly all the time!

        • Oh Harry. I used to try and deny it but as soon as I read the first book I was in lurve. I literally would not sleep for like a whole weekend when i read the first 5. This might be why I’m an insomniac. My mother bought me a hogwarts banner like….2 christmases ago.

        • Right?! It was just an amazing world to disappear into. I read the first one when I was six years old, so those books are a HUGE part of my childhood (I even like the movies). Every time a new book came out, I’d barely eat or sleep until I finished (luckily I read quite fast… or that would be slightly problematic).

          One thing, though: One of my all time favorites is Tonks (NOT in the 5th film), but 1. WHY,Joe, WHY? 2. she can’t possibly be straight?

  18. ack. this makes me so happy. i own every single calvin and hobbes book…i remember staying up insanely late at night with a flashlight rereading every book and just laughing. i was probably 8…good times.

    but what brings me back? baking/decorating cakes. every time i do it, especially putting the frosting on, i’m reminded of this one barney birthday episode where they baked barney a cake and had purple frosting, perfect sprinkles, and giant candles. it was the greatest thing ever and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside of some reason. frosting cakes is definitely my favorite thing ever because of barney. it’s one of my earliest memories.

    • That mouse game was soo good! In the skiing game, did the yeti get you after you hit a tree, or was just that you could never win so he ate you eventually?
      And those are in the same era as the timeless masterpiece we call “minesweeper”.

        • WOW! I’d completely forgotten that game.

          I blame my knowledge of useless trivia and my obsession with winning a pub quiz to spending so many hours playing Jeopardy on DOS. We only had like 3 games and I got tired of pretending to ski just to get eaten by a freakin’ YETI. The other game had some kind of giant purple monster in it…

          And I kinda miss our old printer where you had to pull off the little side bits with the holes.

          • I had a dinosaur game on an old PS1, where you if you one the game it would print off a picture of whatever dinosaur you used (stegasaurus, brontosaurus, or t-resx) on that side-hole paper.

  19. Star Trek. Watched it every day after school. Patrick Stewart was my role model and from the age of 4 till the age of 7 I was convinced my parents had kidnapped me because they were secretly aliens. I was disappointed to learn they didn’t have tentacles.

  20. I think I’ve always loved computers. I remember for fun I would take a book and basically retype it into a word processor. Also, I loved the “typing master” program for our first mac. I just did typing exercises all day and play the game with the falling letters/words. I also bought those brain busters (?) flash card thingies JUST FOR FUN. Oh and guys remember the speak n spell computer things?!? The red one was a spelling one and the blue one was a math one? I went through a few of them.

    When I was old enough to play NES with my brothers, I would commandeer the system, we would take turns on th Mario levels. We would leave the tv and game on overnight for weeks at a time. LOL. I loved that wizard movie and I remember all that blowing and snapping we did to the game cartridges. And it always took finesse to get the old ac adapter cord to fall perfectly into place since the wiring would quickly go bonkers. I also wasted money by having a subscription to Nintendo Power. Hehe.

    In terms of cartoons, umm, I watched a lot of transformers.

    • I loved the typing games like how really athletic guys liked to shoot hoops to show off. Like the kids would gather round to see how fast I could type. Now everyone types fast. Still, I’d play a round of Mavis Beacon if I could.

  21. Oh, Zelda. The only thing I could do on the N64 version was ride the horse. And I did. Nuff said.

    Star Wars is the core of my geeksoul. Like, there are parts of Empire and Return of the Jedi that I tear up watching.

  22. This thread is so awesome, I think I may just start crying.

    Ohhh, I have an urge to wax lyrical about everything from Atari to Wizardry to my first, clunky Gameboy, but I’ll limit it to what this thread is missing:

    Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

  23. I had this (Apple?) keyboard, floppy disc drive and light pen that hooked up to your tv. It had math and science games and (the best part!) a game that was like Paint but you used the light pen to draw right on the tv! I also had an NES that died one day after many hours of Track and Field and I was devastated. I counted the days until the weekends where I could go play Toejam and Earl on my cousin’s Sega Genesis.

    • loved legos! and I also got a pail of those linky ones from the infomercials. Don’t know what they were called, but they played those commercials a lot on Nickelodeon. They were bigger blocks, but you could link them to make “rounded” objects.

  24. oh dear. i used to collect bugs! and put little latin nametags on their sad little corpses. [the shame!] i played with mechano. i used to go to summer braincamps at universities. i grew up on campus too, hanging out in the anthropology and archaelogy labs, where my parents were students, and i played with electron microscopes and buffalo toe skeletons. and to this day i double numbers in my head, into the millions, when i space out. oh, and i make sock garters! should i even admit all this publicly?

        • I never could get into Nancy Drew, even though everyone I knew loved those books. The Boxcar Children on the other hand….who wouldn’t want to live in an abandoned boxcar with three or four of your closest siblings, all having to share a frigid creek for bath time? That sounds like such a horrible theme for a book series looking back on it now.

        • I didn’t like Nancy Drew, and read the Hardy Boys instead. And those books by Willard Price about the brothers who go and capture animals and stuff, but I think they were possibly my mums from when she was a child. Oh and Little House on the Prairie! And Little Women! And Asterix! I should stop now or this is just going to turn into a giant list of books and exclamation marks.

  25. This thread makes me so happy! Thank you so much for making it happen! I keep thinking of more and more things. I remember I used to pretend to be an air traffic controller. I’d sit in front of my first computer with a word document open. I wore earmuffs as a headset and typed random things aligned to the right. I didn’t have much fun, but I did it a lot.
    I also remember this really cheap encyclopedia software. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to get the computer to talk to me by pronouncing the words. Oh, oh, oh! And if I typed in a type of musical instrument there would be a little jingle that played as an example of that instrument. I was very bummed that “steel drums” did not produce this phenomenon. Keep in mind this was before the internet was commonplace.

  26. POKEMONpokemonpokemonpokémon. I swear that ruined my early education because I would just take my gameboy pocket to school. I played for HOURS a day, I hid my gameboy and everything so my parents wouldn’t realise the extent of my 7yo addiction.

    Also, HOW DO I PUT A PHOTO ON HERE, I do not understand, wai

  27. I was super into the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as it was the greatest show ever besides any programming on Nickelodeon and possibly Voltron. Looking back I’ve realized that every episode was the same and they totally should have just made Megazord and stomped on the bad guys when they were still small. The green/black/white ranger was my fave. Also, I didn’t understand why the girls had to wear skirts.

    • I’m a park ranger, and my last name is Green. GREEN RANGER FTW! If I had a nickle for the number of drunks that realized this while I was in the middle of yelling at them, I’d have at least $12.

  28. this thread is fantastic. I miss my lite brite. my SNES. DUCK HUNT. Wolfenstein 3d. When you wanted to use cds in a computer you had to put them in those plastic cases and then put them in the computer. My transformer action figures. I also had this little red computer thing that would teach me how to spell and it would talk to to me I do not remember the name for it but I thought the voice was very comforting for a computer.

  29. Anyone remember the tv show called Today’s Special, with the mannequin that was human when his hat was on and the puppet security guard with the foam moustache? I also loved Samurai Pizza Cats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  30. I love Calvin and Hobbes. I wanted to have a son just like Calvin when I grew up and now I that old cliche “Be careful what you wish for” makes total sense to me. My son is like Calvin in the best possible ways. He is now 8 and obsessed with Calvin and Hobbes himself. There is nothing better than hearing him in his bedroom laughing out loud as he reads (and memorizes) them all.

  31. Hmm… programming in qbasic (I was either 13,14 or 15) was probably how it all began for me. I have to tell you though, qbasic was AWESOME. My friends and I used it for drawing silly figures, which led us to fractals, which I’m pretty sure is what led us to Mr. Bungle.

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