Friday, March 16, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

I'm not gonna lie; this has been a long-ass week. But it's almost behind us, so I reckon the best course of action is to plow ahead toward the weekend. Of course, before I do that I need to drop another Nerd News in Brief.

  • And the world will never be the same: All you cats in Portland be sure to head out to catch the Mediocre Tour (along with Panda Fist and Hott Pink) tonight at Adventureland. And those of you in Seattle would be fools to miss tomorrow's Goondocks CD release party at Tommy's Nightclub featuring the triumphant return of the Mediocre Tour to Sea-town as well as hometown heroes Optimus Rhyme. You're not fools, are you?
  • The stars at night are big and bright: Speaking of Friday gigs, all you Texans should head Austin-way to check out mc chris's SXSW showcase at Karma (119 W 8th St) Fifteen bucks gets you in, and no wrist band is needed. Bring your friends. Sing along. Get mc some major label love. He will seriously be your best friend if you attend. Seriously.
  • Parliament Dorkadelic: Church shot me an email last week that's just too damn nerdy not to share. Apparently a member of the Finnish Parliament has his Web site viewable in three languages: Swedish, English, and Klingon. Fuck, at least it's more practical than Esperanto!
  • For the Glory of Qo'Nos : Speaking of Klingons, Star Trek metalheads Stovokor are currently soliciting for questions via their MySpace. If you wanna play, simply shoot the guys a message titled “Question” through their profile link. I asked if they had any plans to perform on the east coast and how many Cardassians it took to change a lightbulb. Their answers? Yes and four.
  • Morose: And lastly, our pals Gabriel and Syn have posted another rousing edition of Nerdcore News. Be sure to watch all the way to the end. Gabriel drops some knowledge.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tonight, tonight, tonight / Oh, I'm gonna make it right

I just wanted to wish my friends the best of luck with tonight's Seattle event.

This very eve, the Columbia City Theatre will play host to some of my favorite voices in nerdcore hip hop. MC Tanuki, Nursehella, Ultraklystron, and PC Speaker (of Futuristic Sex Robotz), will help Beefy, MC Router, and Doctor Popular kick off the Mediocre Tour in style.

To those of you performing: break many-a leg, my friends!

To those in attendance: please take plenty of pictures.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why I love Vagrant Aesthetic (and why you should too.)

I don't get paid for this.

That should go without saying, but alas I am… y'know… saying it.

Hipster, please! is not some money-making machine. I don't run ads and I don't have sponsors. Shit, the closest thing I have is the Play Asia affiliate link in the sidebar, and that only affords me a modicum of store credit for any items purchased using said link. (It's been used in this way exactly twice, in case you're wondering; both times by my mother at my own urging.)

By the same token, it's not exactly a black hole for my disposable income either. Thanks to services like Blogger and Gmail and the ample free storage space/bandwidth provided by cats like Antisocial and Beefy, I manage to keep this project going with minimal investment on my part. I pretty much just pay for the domain, and that's not exactly an exorbitant expense.

As I've said before, being a nerd music blogger is its own reward. I get to interact with interesting people, I get the skinny on new tracks and projects before many other nerdcore fans, and I've even been namedropped on a couple of occasions. Truthfully, that's enough to keep my spirits up and to remind me that the scene itself is full of real, living, breathing individuals, even though the bulk of which I know primarily as pseudonyms and URLs.

Still, sometimes I get little additional perks: a CD here, a sticker there. Only for me they're more than little perks; they are delightful bite-sized nuggets of validation.

I say all of this so that when I tell you that a veritable ball of awesome arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks back, you'll know I'm speaking true.

My new pals Dennis and Denika are crafty, and I don't mean that in a Beastie Boys sense; I mean that they are grandly creative people who produce tangible goods. Such goods are – and I stretch my vocabulary-muscles simply to find a proper way in which to impart this to you – totally fucking boss!

This Arizona couple sells an assortment of interesting and admittedly bizarre items via their Etsy store (a service of which I was embarrassingly unaware prior to their introduction), the chief of which has become adorably grotesque stuffed zombie figures. Dennis and Denika recently decided to begin taking custom orders, a service which allows regular individuals to have made-to-order zombie plushies crafted for a nominal fee.

What's more, they decided to launch this line by crafting a zombified version of little ol' me! Given my self-professed fear of all things zombie, you'd think I would be offended, but you'd be wrong. I was delighted, flattered, and genuinely touched.

The thing I try to impart through this site (with varying degrees of success) is that nerds aren't simply people who love Star Trek or play D&D or excel in calculus; they are interesting, vibrant, creative individuals who just happen to have interests, attitudes, and skill-sets that aren't exactly congruent with the norm.

In my mind, the thing that sets the “nerd” apart may be rooted in interest – or, better yet, in the intensity of that interest – but it is complimented, nurtured, nourished through just this sort of unbridled creativity.

I appreciate the work of Vagrant Aesthetic in the same way that I appreciate the works of musicians like Drown Radio, Year 200X, or Stovokor; not simply because it is different for the sheer sake of novelty, but because it's an honest (and original) representation of the people who create it. It is, in a very real sense, a visible manifestation of the nerd pride that I haphazardly promote.

It's not about weirdness for weirdness's sake, it's about good-natured eccentricity.

Dennis and Denika did something really nice for me, and I just wanted to thank them all public-like. If you've got a moment and think you might be interested, go take a look at their wares. I don't think you've ever seen anything quite like ‘em.

And, should you be in the market for a personalized zombie plush, be sure to hit them up.

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 18: Listen & Learn

Generally speaking, the target audience for a given episode of Radio Free Hipster is people who are my age and are me. Whenever I play something and people actually like it I am pleasantly surprised. So I imagine that this edition in particular may seem a slap in the face to those of you who listen regularly in spite of my fickle nature.

I'm not trying to be difficult, really I'm not, but I got an idea to theme this episode around the concept of educational songs, and I simply couldn't not do it.

I blame the OCD.

A chunk of the tracks I included this time around are resplendent with nostalgia; you could go so far as to say it even has a 1970's public television vibe in places. This just sort of happened. I was, in a very literal sense, raised by television, and sometimes a man misses his mother.

Still, I hope the content of this ep. doesn't frighten away those of you under 25… or those of you who'd prefer not to hear songs about books. Mostly, I hope at least a couple of y'all can get down with this decidedly educational selection of songs.

Download Radio Free Hipster 18: Listen & Learn [mirror provided by Antisocial] Size: 43.5 MB Running Time: 47:36
Show Notes
Intro: Baddd Spellah (feat. Beefy) – “Radio Free Hipster Theme”
Every time I hear this song, I learn a lesson in awesome!
Track 1: MC Paul Barman and The Science Gang – “Learning 101”
Paul is sort of the Iggy Pop of nerdcore hip hop; he is both a creature apart and an early ancestor.
Z's 1 st interlude: “We spend a lot of time watching these vaguely educational shows.”
Okay, so maybe it's not a lot of time, but it sure as hell feels like it.

Track 2: Shel Silverstein – “Homework Machine”
Uncle Shel wrote both children's classic “A Light in the Attic” and the raunchy “Freakin' at the Freakers' Ball.” I dream of one day having that much range!

Track 3: Tom Lehrer – “New Math”
Church suggested I include Tom Lehrer. He actually helps out a lot like that, hipping me to new events and helping me plan things out. One day that fellow is gonna launch his own blog/podcast and blow me out of the water!
Track 4: Sesame Street – “Ladybug's Picnic”
My mom (the real one, not television) and I used to sing this song when I was a kid. Wikipedia tells me this short was animated by Bud Luckey.
Track 5: Braces Tower – “Eleven Twelve
Braces Tower opened the last ep., and triumphantly returns with this track.

Track 6: Shael Riley - “A Song About Measurement
Whenever I hear this song I imagine Shael's dad as some sort of strange suburban version of Apache Chief who can change his height at will. I'm just sayin'.

Track 7: Prof. Walter Smith & Marian McKenzie – “The Love Song of the Electric Field
Sung to the tune of "Loch Lomond.”

Track 8: MC Hawking – “Entropy”
You have no idea how long I've been waiting to play this song!

Track 9: Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans - “Why Does the Sun Shine
I played this track to set up the next track.

Track 10: They Might Be Giants – “Mammal”
And I played this track for Denika over at Vagrant Aesthetic . I hope she finds it to her liking! :)

Track 11: Former Fat Boys – “Roundworms (Nemertea)
Created to help a fan study for a bio midterm. I shit you not.

Z's 2 nd interlude: “Subjects near and dear to my heart.”
I have a staggering array of literarily-themed songs in my collection. The latter part of this set contains just a few of my favorites.

Track 12: Ray Charles – “ABCs”
You can find tons of Sesame Street clips here .

Track 13: Lynn Ahrens - “A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing”
Lynn also wrote and performed my favorite Schoolhouse Rock song ever (and, embarrassingly, one of my favorite songs period) “Interplant Janet.”

Track 14: MC Lars – “Ahab”
My preferred MC Lars tracks always have some element of educational value. “Hurricane Fresh,” for example, helps the listener distinguish between what is and is not fresh .

Track 15: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets – “Yig Snake Daddy”
My adoration of The Thickets (and H.P. Lovecraft ) should already be known to most listeners.

Track 16: Bloodhag – “Iain M. Banks
I agree with the sentiment that there's simply not enough punk and metal that promotes literacy.

Track 17: Harry & The Potters – “The Godfather: Part 2”
I believe that this was the first Wizard Rock track to make it into my collection way back when. I still enjoy it.

Track 18: Draco & The Malfoys – “99 Death Eaters (live)”
Church found this exemplary live set by DatM over at The entire show is excellent and of surprisingly good quality. Take a listen.

Z's final interlude: “Radio Free Hipster Ep. 19 will be my all-rock extravaganza (though I use the term loosely.)”
That's right, folk, next time I bite the hand that feeds me and exclude nerdcore for an entire episode! Can I do it? Probably not.
Track 19: MC Frontalot – “Untitled track from Elmo's Potty Time
This is actually a lot more fun with the accompanying video, but this ain't no vidcast.
Special Dedication: To the memory of the late Fred Rogers.
I started putting this podcast together on the fourth anniversary of the death of Mr. Rogers. Coincidence? Sure, but poignant nonetheless.

Dedicating a podcast to Mr. Rogers may not've been the most suave and savvy way to go, but, considering the simple fact that I both blog and podcast about nerdy music, I figured I had nothing to lose. Say what you want about his creepy inflection and surreal demeanor, Fred dedicated his life to doing what he loved, and I think we can all learn a little something from that.

Again, I hope this podcast doesn't alienate anyone. I just felt lead to go in a bit of a different direction. Whether you dig it or hate it, let me know, and don't hesitate to hit me up with song and theme suggestions. As previously evidenced, I'm pretty flexible. ;)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

I'm still fuzzy on the whole “time change” thing. If this is just the government's way of punishing us – y'know, sending us to bed for not being more supportive citizens – I can't imagine that most of us would complain about turning in an hour early if they just asked us nicely. Consequently, if this is about conserving global energy resources, well, why don't we just carpool? Doesn't that seem a bit less drastic than rudimentary time travel?

I'm just sayin'.

Twice a year we do this little dance, and both times it takes me four or five days to recover from this exercise in futility. My internal clock does not adjust well to such things.

If you, like me, feel a tad burned-out, a bit blue because of this temporal shake-up, I've got a little something that may lift your spirits. I call it Nerd News in Brief.

  • Drink beer, get tats, bust rhymes, make headlines, repeat: MC Router is fast becoming the face of nerdcore hip hop. This time she and T-Byte have shown up in a newspaper out of San Antonio, as well as in Chicago's Columbia Chronicle. How long you reckon it'll be before she gets her own cable news channel?
  • Spread the nerd love: My bro Matt from Headphone Sacrament just informed me that Wizard Rocker Dumbledork is looking for a guest MC for his newest track. It's about time for some cross-pollination between nerdy music genres, so Matt and I are both hoping that someone from Team Nerdcore might step up.
  • I knew him when…: Speaking of Matt and his passion for Wrock, he recently got some love from and a link from Lev Grossman's TIME magazine blog. Be sure to head to MySpace now and friend Matt before he becomes too important within pop culture circles to accept your digital affection.
  • This Thursday: Don't forget to head Seattle-ways to catch the first stop of the Mediocre Tour this Thursday. The headliners will be joined by all your friends from the Northwest Nerdcore collective. The phrase wine, women, and song comes to mind.
  • And next Thursday: In other Mediocre Tour news, nerdcore MC and scene supporter Luzid has an extra ticket for the March 22 nd show at the Whisky in Hollywood. If you're going to be in the area and would like to check that show out on the free , PM Luzid over at the Rhyme Torrents board. See? I told you the scene was full of nice people.
  • Like musical Prozac: If that's not enough nerdcore optimism, I'd humbly suggest you check out Zealous1's Collaboc1de. It's 22 tracks of nerdy goodness featuring Zealous and a veritable all-star cast of nerdy MCs. Moreover, it's got an amazingly uplifting vibe that's sure to satisfy.
  • Nerdcore Carnival: Lastly, Nerdcore For Life has gotten some more international press, this time from Brazil. Go to the RT boards and check out Dan's post on the subject. And, if you just so happen to be fluent in Portuguese, feel free to elaborate upon the translation.