Thursday, July 13, 2017
"Call Me Booger"
I haunt bookstore and museum event websites. The Brookline Booksmith in MA is one place where we've visited several times over the years, because they tend to have a really interesting assortment of authors come through there. We've seen Molly Ringwald there (she would not sign my Pretty in Pink soundtrack), and we've seen Patton Oswalt (who was signing pretty much anything) and last night we met Curtis Armstrong. Although Armstrong has had a 40+ year career in theater, television and film, he is forever known to the American public as Booger, from the 1984 movie Revenge of the Nerds.
I'm a huge fan of this film- I used to have it on VHS, and my brother and I watched it countless times. I now have the collector's edition DVD (the Panty Raid edition). I've seen all the sequels as well, but they never captured the heart of the original. Speaking of heart, Armstrong said that although he was reluctant to play a guy named Booger, who said and did such disgusting things, that ultimately he is very proud of the movie. The prologue of his book is poignant, as he illustrates a brief history of nerd-dom. The word "nerd" was coined in 1950 by Dr. Seuss in his book If I Ran the Zoo, and the word became a description for adolescent social outcasts. He points out that the word is often applied to smarter than average teens, who do not meet the standards of physical attractiveness for their peer group: bad skin, prescription shoes, thick glasses, etc. That is the stereotypical image, but it's really intended to label anyone who doesn't fit in. Nerds are known to have a variety of interests: anything from math and science to computers to comic books and video games and Dungeons and Dragons and model trains. Some of them are genius level, some may have above average intelligence, and some of them were labeled as "retarded." He revels in the fact that there is now a geek pride movement, and words like "adorkable" have even come to exist.
He even got a little emotional when he recalled the point in the film where the newly minted fraternity, has the words NERDS burned on the front lawn of their house. It was never meant to be a throwaway part, it was a very deliberate part of the script to show how destructive intolerance and hatred can be. Furthermore, this experience is what leads the fraternity Lambda Lambda Lambda, a national black fraternity, to side with the nerds in the final scene. Everyone in that fraternity can relate to how it feels to be discriminated against.
As you can see in the photo, we had our little monkey with us. It's almost impossible to get him to sit still and be quiet in a place where there's so much going on, and I was worried that people would get annoyed with him and start shooting us dirty looks. He enjoyed clapping with the audience though, and he waved at Curtis Armstrong, who smiled and waved right back. He is so nice! Not only was he gracious and personable to all the fans who came out to see him, he signed books and DVD's and posed for photos. He also explained that he has a personal connection to the Brookline Booksmith. Before it became the Brookline Booksmith, it was a different bookstore, owned by the people who would become his mother and father-in-law. His wife worked at the store when she was a young woman, so it was a small piece of history for his family.
Of course we bought a copy of his new book Revenge of the Nerd: Or,. . .the Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would be Booger. If you'd like to know more about the book, NPR did a nice little review of it.
I'm sure you can guess what movie we put on last night to watch in bed. . .