Thursday, August 16, 2007

When Geeks and Jocks Collide

As you know, I’m a fan of the Discovery Channel show “Mythbusters,” where special effects gurus Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman use science to confirm or bust interesting concepts about the world in which we live. I’m especially enamored of Grant Imahara, mechanical engineer extraordinaire, who with Tory Belleci and Kari Byron comprise the Mythbusters Build Team. Grant personifies all the qualities I’ve loved about science geeks since I was barely nubile: he’s ingenious, creative, quirky, funny...and cute, too.

Okay, so in the latest episode that we watched, the Mythbusters tackled (sorry, wrong sport) baseball myths. They recruited famed pitcher Roger Clemens to assist. In the course of the show, all my fave engineering geniuses put on baseball jerseys and stepped up to the plate in the cause of science.

Let me tell you, 4 geeks + 1 jock = serious conflict in Diana’s brain.

So, Adam can construct an air cannon, but he cannot swing a bat. And when he, Jamie, Grant and Tory took lessons in sliding into second base, it was easy to see they were not the first guys picked for the team except at the Science Olympics. The highlight of this episode was when Grant exclaimed, “But I can build a robot that can slide!” That, my friends, is it in a nutshell. These are guys who have spent a lifetime substituting brain for brawn.

Well, I get turned on by science geeks, and have ever since this guy in my high school physics class diagrammed for me his concept of the self-harvesting potato. But I also get turned on by baseball players. Imagine my quandary watching this show. Grant indeed gets sexiness points for having designed and built a killer batting machine that hits harder than Roger Clemens ever could (or Barry Bonds, for that matter). But Grant loses major sexiness points for sliding in such a ridiculous fashion. I am trying to forget I ever saw this slide.

Adam, who is pretty goofy-looking, gains major sexiness points for being really smart and many sexiness points that he doesn’t even look goofy to me anymore. But his batting swing pretty much erases the smart points AND the funny points. Blorg, it’s ugly. My company softball team has prettier swings--even the women.

Now, I keep telling myself Roger Clemens would look as goofy as Mr. Bean if presented with welding equipment, a galvanometer, some ballistics gel, or even drafting paper and a sharpie, all of which the Mythbusters gang can wield with mastery. Take away his glove and ball, stick him in a lab, and watch him drive the girls away screaming as he fumbles with the electronics and some black powder and sets himself on fire. I can picture Adam laughing maniacally and shouting, “Your split-finger fastball can’t help you now, Rocket! Bwahaha!”

But still, I shudder when remembering my science heroes trying to catch Roger’s pitches. Not good, boys, not good.

And all these years I’ve thought myself to be a sound supporter of Anthony Michael Halls of the world. I love stories where the pretty girl rebuffs the quarterback and rides off into the sunset with the president of the Science Club. It all works well until Anthony Michael Hall steps out of the lab and tries to throw a football or make a free throw. It’s just so hard to feel attracted to a guy when you’re cringing. (Les Stroud, until you tell me you have a mean slapshot, I refuse to watch you on skates...hiking boots only, buddy.)

So, all this is a good lesson in how sexiness works. If a guy is good at something, he can totally compensate for his shortcomings. However, it’s important not to lose all the ground you’ve gained by demonstrating how truly bad you are at something else. Unless, of course, sexiness is not what you’re going for.

And of course, Grant & Co. are more interested in busting myths than looking sexy. Which, come to think of it, is kinda sexy....

Okay, now my brain IS going to explode.

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