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A Crakgenius? Seriously?

May 16, 2012

Why so serious?!

Before the Joker overused this line in the Dark Knight, it was a bit of a credo of mine.  With that in mind, I will attempt to answer all questions surrounding my strange, somewhat worrisome blogger name.

Crakgenius.  It’s spelled oddly.  It doesn’t seem to mean anything.  And yet it is reminiscent of both a pretty awful drug, and the colossal ego required for any person to refer to themselves as a genius.  It has been, though, my online nom de plume for nearly two decades, and for that I feel some explanation is in order.  First, allow me to put your mind at ease.  I am neither a drug dealer nor a plumber (though, come on, how awesome would it be if I WAS a plumber??  That said, I’d probably go by the name “SuperDuperMario” instead).

First, a little about my upbringing.  I was raised primarily in rural North Carolina. No, I don’t have much of an accent (though, apparently, I can’t manage to say either “rural” or “Carolina” without a slight drawl, which makes certain people around here snicker).  I owe my lack of accent to my parents being from the mid-west (Iowa/Illinois and Indiana), and my being born in and living until the age of five in California.  Mostly, though, it’s because of the private high school I attended.  On my first week of ninth grade, my English teacher pulled me aside after class and said, “the southern accent is widely viewed within the business world as an indication of stupidity.  You would do well to work on yours.”  This shocked me because: 1) I thought I had successfully flown under the radar and the teacher couldn’t possibly have heard me actually SPEAK before, 2) I wasn’t aware that a southern accent had infiltrated my speech in the nine years of small town North Carolina public schooling, and 3) how could anyone confuse me with someone who wanted any part of the business world? In the end, though, I washed my mouth of all but the tiniest remnants of the offensive tongue (though I can slip into a full blown Piedmont Carolina accent without so much as a second thought when the occasion arises, and that has actually been quite useful in the business world… which I still don’t want any part of).

Me Vs. A (Probably) Well Meaning Private School

That ninth grade run-in with my English teacher was my introduction to the strange outpost of urbane society that was my high school.  I was always bothered by the thin veneer of “making better businessmen for tomorrow” with which they masked every insidious thing they did.  Everything was just so polite.  So formal.  So… serious.  Why so serious?!

Everything became a joke to me.  By my senior year, I really didn’t give a crap, so I wrote a computer virus.  It wasn’t evil. It didn’t destroy hard drives. It didn’t steal passwords.  It simply made a horrible screeching noise emit from the internal speaker at random intervals.  Oh, and I embedded it in a program I had been asked to write for the school, so it was sure to spread across most of the campus, but wouldn’t launch until a random number of computer restarts had taken place.  Just about every classroom had a computer in it, and within two weeks, computers all over campus would bark out random screeches.  The network administrator (read: computer teacher who got stuck with the task of maintaining the network) quickly found the source of the error.  I put it RIGHT IN the autoexec.bat file, which in computer terms, is a bit like connecting a car bomb using a giant red wire in plain sight that connects to the car ignition.  It didn’t take him long to figure out the culpable party (read: asshole kid). I was punished.  So what, I thought, I’m graduating soon.  One week before graduation, though, I again found myself in trouble.  This time, I was brought before a judiciary panel, which included my father (who was a computer teacher at this school, but not at the high school level).  I didn’t even know what the charges were.  In the interest of maintaining anonymity, we’ll call the head of the panel Mr. Tool, as he was, truthfully, a real tool, and his last name sounded a LOT like a piece of male genitalia.  Also, his voice was about an octave too low for any person outside of a butler for the Addams Family, so imagine that in your head as you read this.

Mr. Tool: Did you put a shoe inside a computer?

Me: Wait… what?

Mr. Tool: Did you or did you not put a shoe inside a computer?

Me: Hmmm… that DOES sound like something I’d do.  Which computer?

Mr. Tool: (face turning slightly red) The first computer on the right in the Macintosh lab.

Me: The Mac lab?  Well that explains it.

Mr. Tool: (confused) Explains what?

Me: Why you’d be upset.  I thought it was a shoe eighty six (this joke would KILL at a nerd convention ca. 1992… referencing the two eighty six processor.  Ahh nerds.  lol)

Mr. Tool: (face very red) Why would you put a shoe inside a computer!?

Me: To make it run faster?

My diploma was withheld.  I was forced into “community service,” which meant showing up day after day during the summer to perform tasks like putting books into storage, cleaning desks and lockers, scrubbing toilets.  After a few weeks, I was given my diploma.  Here’s the thing, though.  I didn’t put the shoe inside of the computer.  I know who did, and I could have simply told them what happened.  Instead, I gave them reason enough to convict me of the crime, because I really didn’t give a crap, and they were all too damn serious.

The Music Behind the Name

Growing up in the rural south really didn’t afford me much of a musical education.  I avoided country music like the plague.  My mother adored classical music, so I heard a great deal of that.  My father was a big jazz fan, so I heard a lot of that as well.  Then, there was the radio, where my choices consisted of pop music and classic rock (and the aforementioned plague).  I split time between both, developing a liking for Duran Duran and Led Zeppelin at pretty much the same time.  But, as the 80s came to an end and the 90s began, I was exposed to truly alternative music for the first time.  I loved the stuff you could only hear on MTV after midnight (which I would sneak downstairs to listen to, then creep back to bed somewhere around 1am), and I began delving into all aspects of alternative, punk, and grunge.  One particular song caught my ear during that magical senior year, and spoke to me like no other.  That song was “Slack Motherfucker” by Superchunk (that, for the record, is the first f-bomb on my blog, and the actual INSTANT in which I decided to no longer censor myself… thanks Superchunk!). I first heard it in the senior lounge at school, and in the moments before the administration stormed through the door to turn off the music and issue a warning, I learned all about the band, and they were from North Carolina.  I couldn’t believe good music was coming out of my own state.

I soon began spending my free time at area record stores, learning more about local music.  The research triangle area had a pretty amazing scene, with not only Superchunk and other punk bands, but some cool psycho-billy stuff coming from bands like Southern Culture on the Skids, and a completely different sound from guys like Ben Folds.  Then there was the Appalachian State region in Boone, NC, with bands like the Husbians, Silly, and Sticky earning a lot of attention.  The whole region was spawning amazing music, including Virginia, home of another band I would completely fall in love with: Tsunami.  Tsunami had their own record company, Simple Machines.  They answered to no one.  Their music was complex and heartfelt, and I wanted to absorb it into every pore of my being.  They had more great songs than I care to name, and one song which would become my name, “The Genius of Crack.”

Blah Blah Blah Via the Internet is Still Blah Blah Blah

This is where I fast forward through several years of relatively unimportant events in my life, before landing squarely in 1995.  In ’95, I was pretty much rudderless, bouncing from friend to friend, living on their couches, repaying their kindness with beer.  I had a good job which paid insanely well at Circuit City (my first foray into now-defunct companies… I’m the friggin grim reaper of corporate America.  If any company was to lay eyes on my complete resume, they would never EVER hire me for fear it would mean their doom).  I was drunk one night, bored, and looking for something to occupy my mind as everyone else in the apartment was falling asleep.  Finally I looked at my friend’s computer, and saw an icon I didn’t recognize.

Me: Dude are you awake?

Friend: (snoring)

Me: DUDE!

Friend: (in his natural Russian accent) What.. the… FUCK?!

Me: Sorry.  What’s mirk?

Friend: (in Vodka slurred Russian accent) Smirk?

Me: No. Mirk?  It’s on your computer.

Friend: You woke me for this? It’s an IRC program… like a chat room but you don’t have to be on AOL to use it.

Me: No shit?  I’m going to try that! (This, for some reason, appealed to me.  I guess chatting with strangers online sounded better in 1995)

Friend: Change the user name.  People know me on there.

So, I launched this program.  Okay, in all honesty, I launched it BEFORE waking my friend, but when it started and none of it looked familiar, THAT’S when I woke my friend.  I clicked the connect button, connected as him, then, after a few moments, discovered how to change my name.  But… damn… what should I change it to?  I ran through a thousand ideas in my head, dismissing them all as weak suggestions brought on by alcohol more than creativity.  Finally, though, I thought about music, and at length, I thought of “The Genius of Crack.”  And I knew, this was me.  I felt that a “Genius of Crack” might be a clever way of calling someone a smart ass, or a wise cracker.  In other words, someone like myself.  Someone who just didn’t give a crap, who went around wondering, why so serious?  I fumbled with the name, though, as it needed to fit into a 10 character nickname limit, yet still make it recognizable. In the end, I went with CrakGenius.

This was the birth of my online persona.  My humble beginnings as an online chatter would later spawn a web page or two, an online gaming persona, several email addresses, and a few blogs.  And all, always, under the name CrakGenius.  You are now, so seriously, informed on the roots of the CrakGenius.

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4 Comments
  1. My hubs is from eastern NC and he is really good at hiding his accent. Until we go visit family and it comes back FULL FORCE. I’m all “where the hell did that come from??” every. single. time. Then it takes him about 2 weeks to return to talking to normal. It’s awful.

    • The accent is infectious. When I was working tech support for… a computer company I won’t name because I’ve repeatedly made fun of them on past blogs… I would get calls from people with a southern drawl and find myself instantly coloring my speech to match. It actually feels comfortable and normal to use a drawl when talking to people who also have a drawl.

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