How might a geek love thee? Let me count the ways.
Gamer nerds and fandom freaks attack our annual holiday of love, a.k.a. St. Valentine’s Day, in all of these ways: With precision. With stealth. With a sense of adventure. With flow charts. We shower our intendeds with trilogy binge-watching sessions. We concoct love potions, on the rocks or neat. Nerds no matter the stripe — Tolkienite, Larper, Browncoat, techie, Trekker, hacker, gamer, Whovian — can be acutely passionate, obsessive even, when it comes to love.
But if you haven’t yet hatched a scheme full of Easter eggs for your beloved, don’t “button mash,” and “Don’t Panic,’’ as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” once counseled. Who would cross the Bridge of Love, to paraphrase Monty Python, must answer these questions three: “What, is your quest . . . for romance?” “Are you going out, or staying in?” “Do you desire to give a DIY gift, or a box of nerdery delivered by UPS?”
Fear not, boy or girl toy. Merely roll your 20-sided die, take up your +5 Sword of Smiting, and consult this Dungeon Master’s Guide to Love.
Data in/date out (going out)
POWER UP To supercharge your romantic day, transport to the Museum of Science’s one-million-volt Theater of Electricity. On Feb. 14, catch the IMAX movie “The Human Body” for a “look, in astonishing detail, at the biological processes that go on without our control” — go ahead and let your mind wander over that a while. www.mos.org
THE WAY WE WERE Nothing bonds awkward couples like a flashback to their pathetic adolescences. For a special Valentine’s shot of angst, check out Mortified’s “Doomed Valentines Show,” a performance of love-themed real journals, diaries, and poems. Club Oberon, Cambridge, Feb 13-14, www.getmortified.com/live
TEMPLE OF TECH At the MIT Museum, kneel down before permanent exhibits on robotics, artificial intelligence, the history of MIT research, kinetic sculpture, the GAMBIT Game Lab, and the world’s largest collection of holograms. “How People Connect” on Feb. 14 features MIT researchers discussing the ins and outs of human interaction — like getting cheat codes for love. End with a surprise geeky gift from the museum store. Central Square, Cambridge, www.web.mit.edu/museum
GAME ON Whether passive-aggressive, or just plain aggressive, gaming is one way couples can work out their, you know, tensions in a safe way. At the brand-new Knight Moves Board Game Cafe, play any of the 300-plus board games, from Settlers of Catan to Ticket to Ride. Brookline, www.knightmovesboston.wordpress.com Classic gamers can sate their “Donkey Kong,” “Centipede,” “Tempest,” and “Tron” appetites at the American Classic Arcade Museum, an arcade with more than 300 video games, just a hyperdrive to Fun Spot. Laconia, N.H., www.classicarcademuseum.org
BOSKONE 51 ORGY Gorge yourself at this annual smorgasbord of nerdy events, from autograph sessions with sci-fi authors and panels such as “Urban Fantasy in Transition” and “Make Your Own Games!” to performances such as a staged reading of excerpts from Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope.’’ Or just stock up on nerd gear and play games. This sci-fi, fantasy, and fandom convention conveniently comes V-Day weekend, Feb. 14-16. Westin Boston Waterfront, www.nesfa.org/boskone
YOU HADE ME AT CTHULHU Flat Earth Theater performs “Lovecraft’s Unnamable Tales: An Evening of Indescribable Horrors,” radio play variations of four of H. P. Lovecraft’s short stories.
Feb.15, Pandemonium Books and Games, Cambridge, www.flatearththeatre.com
FEED YOUR HEAD Treat your beloved book geek to more than Doritos and Mountain Dew. The Trident Booksellers and Cafe boasts two floors of books, magazines, and booth seating. Sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and free Wi-Fi. Hobbits will love the “Perpetual Breakfast.” Back Bay, www.tridentbookscafe.com
FOOD, PERIODICALLY MIT grad students, biological engineers, neuroscientists, and other members of the geek clique pack the Miracle of Science for beer and grub. The chalkboard menu is set up like the periodic table of the elements. Central Square, Cambridge, www.miracleofscience.us
HERE BE DRAGONS Colonial history geeks and Tolkien fans alike will dig the Green Dragon Tavern, a 17th-century bar that also shares the name of a famous pub in the Shire. Look for a sultry Aragorn/Paul Revere in the corner. Faneuil Hall, Boston. www.greendragonboston.com
THE (JESSE) EISENBERG PRINCIPLE Come to the Thirsty Scholar not only for the nerdish name but to pay deep homage to the opening scene of the Facebook origins movie, “The Social Network,” shot here. Great beers on tap and pub food selection. Inman Square, Somerville, www.thirstyscholarpub.com
THAT’S NERDALICIOUS Tufts biomedical engineer by day, Belmont resident Jodie Moreau by night bakes sweet, frosted cookies in the shapes of robots, lab-coated nerds, and elements from the periodic table. Fuel your Valentine’s outing with “Love Potion #9,” and you might seal the deal. Delivery only, www.thecookielab.com
TAKE ME TO YOUR EATER Pizza lovers from many galaxies invade Flying Saucer Pizza for its sci-fi themed art (including a life-size Picard-Borg mannequin at the door), starters such as Space Balls: The Appetizer, pizzas named Morpheus, Starbuck, and Pizza the Hut, and the Princess Leia cinnamon buns dessert. They even serve mead. Kick back with sci-fi movies on the TV and occasional Nerd trivia nights. Salem, www.flyingsaucerpizzacompany.com Afterward, wander to the Red Lion Smoke Shop, an aging temple to nerdery, for D&D products, comic books, and action figures (and, weirdly, cigars). www.redlionsmoke.com
Staying in, DIY
PILLOW FIGHT CLUB Consider your love’s favorite object of fandom, and dress accordingly with rented costumes. Trekkers might reenact that Spock-Uhura love tryst, complete with blue shirt and red mini-dress. “Star Wars” fans might get matching lightsabers and death-duel in the bedroom. Think Slave Leia and Han Solo. Devoted to “Game of Thrones”? Try Daenerys and Daario. Whatever turns you on. No judgment here. Boston Costume, Cambridge, www.bostoncostume.com
MAKING WOOKIEE Too cold to star gaze? Grab a package of glow in the dark stars from a local toy store and affix some constellations to the firmament of your living room, or (ahem!) bedroom ceiling. Turn out the lights and watch the comets and meteors fly.
ENDLESS LOVE Stage a movie marathon trilogy screening — “Star Wars,” Indiana Jones, “Lords of the Rings.” Or, screen a smorgasbord of geeky love movies. Ideas: “Electric Dreams” (man-woman-Apple computer love triangle), “Weird Science” (two teen nerds concoct a babe), “Ghostbusters” (rev up those keymaster-gatekeeper fantasies), “The Bride of Frankenstein” (undead lab-love experiment ends badly), “Good Will Hunting” (Southie math genius finds the generating function and a Harvard beauty), “WALL-E’’ (robot falls for robot). Or catch the now-in-theaters “Her” (boy gets OS; boy loses OS; boy gets new OS).
LARP IT UP Before you enter Middle-earth, carbo-load your handsome dwarf or elf with a hobbbity breakfast feast of sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushroom, and crispy bacon, as well as bake up some “lembas,” those Elvish power bars (a shortbread recipe will suffice, then wrap cookies in faux leaves and twine). Or, make a series of “Star Wars”-inspired beverages laced with some Tantooine hooch and abuse the Force together. (A recipe: Bantha Blue Milk: Combine 3 ounces of milk, 1 ounce of cream, 1 ounce of coconut rum, 1 ounce of Amaretto, and 2 ounces of Blue Curaçao in a shaker with ice, shake until chilled. Serve in a chilled glass. Draw your lightsabers and quaff.)
RIDDLE ME THIS Scheme a scavenger hunt of love. Devise several riddles, such as (to borrow from Bilbo and Gollum) “A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.” (The answer? Egg.) The first riddle leads to the location of the next clue. The final riddle leads to the mother lode of some geeky gift.
VIRTUALLY YOURS Stranded in a galaxy far, far away from your lover? Any video game with a decent co-op mode — “Portal,” “Trine 2,” any MMO — can be a perfect virtual date. Or, make a monument to love in “Minecraft,” and invite your Valentine to visit what you’ve created.
Can buy me love (gifts)
DIGITAL ME Local jewelry lab Dyo uses software and 3-D printing technology to add personalized elements to rings, pendants, and dog tags of their design. www.dyo.co At the MakerBot store, surprise your darling by digitizing yourself (or both of you) in their 3-D Photo Booth, then memorialize your passion with a plastic, 3-D printed bust of your head and shoulders. Back Bay, www.makerbot.com
CAN’T HACK IT Give the gift of gadgetry. Actually, you can play with electronics and robotics for free on Circuit Hacking Night at Artisan’s Asylum. Or sign up for a course like DIY Kinetic Sculpture. Union Square, Somerville, www.artisansasylum.com More advanced lovers can forge their own Ring of Power at a class like “Make Your Own Wedding Rings.” Stonybrook Fine Arts, Jamaica Plain, www.stonybrookfinearts.com
GET MOLECULAR Buy your kitchen physicist a molecular gastronomy kit and let him or her concoct a meal worthy of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew or Beaker. www.molecule-r.com
YOU’D BETTER SHOP AROUND Newbury Comics is a veritable pop cultural emporium, selling provisions and gear from your favorite universes, from “Star Wars’’ T-shirts to Dr. Who bathrobes to various Minecraft merch. Back Bay, Harvard Square, elsewhere, www.newburycomics.com At Urban Outfitters, grab a set of “Pac-Man” shot glasses, a portable Crossley turntable for your vinyl nerd (and dance-party-to-go), or an Atari Flashback classic game console for a retro-gaming night. Boston, Cambridge, elsewhere, www.urbanoutfitters.com ThinkGeek carries a variety of geeky treats, from Han Solo Carbonite Chocolate and “Love You / I Know Cufflinks” to matching, Cat in the Hat-inspired Player 1 and Player 2 Hoodies. www.thinkgeek.com Local comic book/pop culture shops Comicazi (Davis Square, Somerville, www.comicazi.com) and Hub Comics (Union Square, Somerville, www.hubcomics.com) have stuff to make your superhero feel extra-super on Valentine’s Day.Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.” He can be reached at www.ethangilsdorf.com. Follow him on Twitter @ethanfreak.