Friday, October 19, 2007

More Nerd News in Brief

In case you were wondering, my Halloween spirit is still very much intact. Sure, I’m a little pissed about the glut of Christmas-themed wares already for sale at my local retailers, but that’s hardly Halloween’s fault. Halloween is just grooving along, trying to stay hip and relevant, and then Christmas – totally cock-blocking Thanksgiving, I might add – swoops in and tries to steal all the attention.

It’s just not fair.

That’s why I urge you to refuse to buy that snoring Santa doorstop, to neglect your holiday shopping, and to tell Wal-Mart to shove that jumbo spindle of tinsel right up its corporate ass! Let Halloween have its moment in the spotlight. Let the kids trick-or-treat. Let the adults drink too much and dress inappropriately. Let AMC show Children of the Corn for 400th damn time.

Such is the glory of the Halloween season, and, much like rock ’n’ roll, it’s only really entertaining if it’s evil and slightly inappropriate.
  • I’m not even angry: Jonathan Coulton’s got a fun little post up about the experience of writing the end theme for Valve’s newest sensation Portal over at his blog. It’s a surreal slice-of-life affair, just as you’d expect from Coulton, and he even posts the songs lyrics and chords as well. Thanks to my pal BrĂ¼x for directing me to this one!
  • Famicom, we hardly knew ye: In other gamer-related news, Matt found this piece up at Engadget concerning Nintendo’s announcement that, as of October 31st, they will no longer support the Famicom hardware. Yes, after nearly 25 years, Nintendo is finally pulling the plug on the console that put them on the map and whose American iteration saved the videogame market as we know it. So if you’re planning on smashing your Famicom with a hammer, now’s the time to do it.
  • L shift-O to the quote: Wednesday it was announced that an all-new original song by our own MC Frontalot will be include in Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Fans are noticeably excited, but I am left to wonder, given the Lovecraftian/steampunk setting of the game, what could Front possibly have in store?
  • Full Frontal nerdity + an STD: Next month, Frontalot and the Clonefucker himself, Schaffer the Darklord, will embark on a U.S. tour. Confirmed shows are as follows: Thurs. Nov. 8th - The Living Room in Providence, RI; Fri. Nov. 9th - Harper's Ferry in Allston, MA; Sun. Nov. 11th - The Knitting Factory in NYC; Tues. Nov. 13th - The Basement in Columbus, OH; Wed. Nov. 14th - Reggie's Live in Chicago, IL; Thur. Nov. 15th - Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, MN; Sun. Nov. 18th - The Marquis Theater in Denver, CO (with special guest YTCracker); Tues. Nov. 20th - Burt's Tiki Club in Salt Lake City, UT; Wed. Nov. 21st - The Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, CA; Sun. Nov. 25th - Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, CA. The tour will coincide with the November 1st release of Schaffer's newest full-length Mark of the Beast.
  • West Coast ghosts: This week has seen a couple of interesting items from the ZeaLouS1 camp. First and foremost, Z1 has announced that the new album will be entitled The Living Epitaph. A preview of the cover artwork is available at his site. Also, next Friday, October 26th, BOSSFIGHT presents Devil’s Night at the San Diego Sports Club. Featured performers include BOSSFIGHT’s own ZeaLouS1 and IllGill as well as otaku-centric artists Maja and Stephanie Yanez. The show kicks off at 9:00 PM, and, while there’s no cover, it is a 21+ affair.
  • Not to be confused with Johnny Dangerously: Jesse Dangerously’s new album Verba Volant is now available for purchase in both DRM-free MP3 and FLAC formats from Also included are PDFs of the cover art and lyrics; all for a mere $8.88. Unfortunately, neither CDbaby nor iTunes have the album available yet, so this is a great (and inexpensive) solution for folks who want their Jesse D. right the fuck now! Jesse would also like to remind fans that Zunior has a handy place for user reviews right on the site. And, if you choose to write a review he asks you to “[p]retend you write for a respectable alt-weekly and use every cultural touchstone at your disposal.” I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
  • If they could see me now!: The lads and I can’t seem to stop talking about Wrock the Boat, the first ever Harry Potter-themed cruise. Who wouldn’t want to travel to the Caribbean for 5 full days with Draco and the Malfoys and DJ Luna Lovegood? And did I mention that it’ll take place upon a Carnival "Fun Ship" the week of Halloween 2008? I didn’t? Well, how dare I?!
  • A pterodactyl in the background for no goddamn reason: Matt also directed me to the Geek Comedy Tour 3000. Though the concept of nerds telling joked (or, more specifically, comedians reflecting on their own inherent nerdiness) isn’t exactly a recent development, some of the bits presented on the tour’s site were actually pretty good. I thought I’d throw it our there in case any of y’all were interested… despite the fact that it’s occurring 93 years too early.
  • Unbridled creativity meet rampant fanboyism: To keep things in the Halloween spirit, here are some Transformers costumes that are positively awe-inspiring. Though, truthfully, I really wanna see those Contructicons try and form Devastator. I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tricks and/or treats

There are few things I look forward to more than Halloween-themed music compilations. I don’t imagine that confession shocks anyone, but I just wanted to put it on the table before I proceed.

As a die-hard Halloweener and a huge dork, I was keenly interested in developments concerning the second annual Rhyme Torrents Halloween project, known simply as Halloween 2.0. Though I was less than hopeful that the compilation would make its projected release date, the RT community pulled together and made it available yesterday as originally promised.

This time around, the comp is actually two individual disks, each composed of 13 tracks. They range from simple spoken interludes to 7+ minute musical epics, and, in true Rhyme Torrents style, the contributors run the gamut from old favorites to – if you’ll pardon the pun – new blood.

I realize that the RT compilations have gotten a bit of a bad reputation as far as quality is concerned, but, unlike most of the previous collections, the production values for Halloween 2.0 seem to remain fairly high and consistent across the board. The intrinsic musicality of the songs themselves, however, is a different story. While most of us can reach a consensus as to what is acceptable as far as mastering and leveling, we certainly have disparate ideas concerning what makes a truly enjoyable song.

To that end, I’ll go ahead and say that the listener will find tracks that he digs as well as those that he’d simply choose to ignore upon repeated plays. And, if you are the type who finds more of the former than the latter, may I remind you that both disks are provided free of charge.

In my opinion, each disk boasts some genuinely standout tracks. ZeaLouS1’s “Zombie Killa,” which I was fortunate enough to hear in its early stages, presents a very interesting post-apocalyptic narrative, and TyT’s “Trick or Treat” is powerful and dynamic in the spirit of YTCracker. Projekt Zero and T-Byte manage to strike a great balance between lyrical storytelling and musical ambiance on “Last Man,” as do Conyeezy and nYgel on their submission “World War Z,” which takes its name from one of my favorite contemporary novels. But the first disk truly belongs to Metamystiks, Inc.; their track “Voices” continues MMI’s grand tradition of bringing it harder and more relentlessly with each release. Though their output is limited, DJ Snyder, Super Dragon X, and myf are batting a thousand.

Disk 2 is of note first for MC Tanuki’s coaxing Ultraklystron out of his (sort of) retirement to contribute to the track “Vampires Really Suck,” which has a great guitar-rap vibe thanks a clever musical hook. Down Underdogs'Bloodsucking Freaks” also bring a fantastic old school vibe to the proceedings, and they prove a tough act to follow. Still, the Ice & Fire mix of MC Lars/mc chris collaboration “Roommate From Hell” manages to forgo traditional hip-hop for a more rocked up approach, and Horrorshow’s “Everything’s Over Now” stands out as, perhaps, the compilations most thematic, undeniably eerie cut and a perfect way to close.

As previously stated, the compilation is free for the taking, so I highly recommend that you check it out. There’s something for everyone, from the young nihilist just looking for tales of fright to the head who desperately wants to believe that there’s something nerdy he can vibe to. So take a chance and check out Halloween 2.0, and then be sure to show some love to your favorite participants.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nerd News in Brief

After seven years of bitching Capcom has finally agreed to grace fans with another Bionic Commando sequel. Unfortunately, said sequel is slated for release on the PC, PS3, and 360. This means, for those of you watching in black and white, that the new title will surely forgo its 2-D platforming roots in favor of a 3-D makeover.


If I learned anything from Konami, it’s that when one of my favorite old school titles makes the jump to the third dimension the gameplay inevitably suffers.

I have a list of demands, Capcom, and I’m gonna break ‘em down for you:

1) Yes, please, for the love of God, do make a new Bionic Commando.
2) Keep it 2-D. As Ninja Five-O demonstrated, the grappling hook effect is still a solid play mechanic in traditional platformers.
3) Fuck the next-gen consoles: what you want to do is make this title for the Nintendo DS. Everybody owns one and it’s the perfect vehicle for old school remakes.
4) Give us an unlockable version of the original title on the same cart, and dump the North American censorship; we all know they’re Nazis.

Wait, I should've asked for a bag of money too, right?! Damnit!
  • A geek manifesto: My pal Matt from Headphone Sacrament wrote up his own response to last month’s Something Awful anti-nerdcore sentiment. He shared it with Church and me, and we were summarily impressed. After letting it simmer for a bit, last week he opted to post it on his blog. It’s a great piece, and I highly recommend you check it out.
  • The Fantastic Dr. Richards: LogicOne reports that his new album is finally nearing completion. He even went so far as to post a tentative track list over on the Rhyme Torrents forums. Most interesting is his line-up of collaborators, which include confirmed heavy hitters ZeaLouS1 and Super Dragon X and projected tracks with Fanatical, Betty Rebel, and Benjamin Bear. And for those of you who feared that Logic had forgotten his roots, “Comic Shop Rock 2.0” is among the songs featured.
  • Happy Nerdoween: In other Rhyme Torrents news, today is the drop date of RT’s Halloween 2.0. Will it make it in before the buzzer? A brother can dream!
  • Halloween just became less scary: Church shot me a link to this piece from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry that debunks all my favorite Hollywood supernatural pseudoscience. I am both amazed and disappointed. Crushingly.
  • On again, off again: Yesterday mc chris announced that he was planning to drop the Colorado Springs date from his current tour due to some press issues. (There were some other concerns broached in the same blog entry, but that's neither here nor there.) Thankfully, however, he decided, after an overwhelming fan response, to keep the date intact.
  • A friend in need: T.Y.T., an artist whose Nerdy South mixtape contribution was played on a recent edition of RFH, is in need of a little financial assistance. More specifically, his father is in need of a liver transplant as the result of hemochromatosis-related cirrhosis. Since his condition is genetic (and not the result of a cause such as alcoholism) he’s been bumped up the organ recipient list. But this process still ain’t cheap, and the family is in desperate need of money to pay for the procedure. The guys from The Awful Show have set up a campaign to raise the needed $10,000, so please consider contributing.
  • Christmas with Harry: Wrock fans can now pre-order The Leaky Cauldron’s 2007 charity fundraiser CD Jingle Spells: Leaky’s Rocking Christmas. The disk features all-new, exclusive tracks from 14 different bands, and, of course, all the money raised goes to Book Aid International. Thanks, as always, go to Matt for keeping me in the loop on all things Wrock!
  • It’ll never be better than mine!: I just wanted to remind interested parties about the CAGcast them song contest going on over at Cheap Ass Gamer. I mentioned it last week, but I figured that with $100 and some repeat play on a wildly popular podcast at stake it bore repeating.
  • Boning the undead: After yesterday’s release of RFH 32, Church and Matt simultaneously pointed me toward this info on proposed CBS series Babylon Fields. I had heard whisperings about the show, but nothing solid save that it failed to make the lineup. Now I understand why; the horny zombies in a crime drama thing has been done to death! ;)
  • Zombies, zombies, and more zombies: And that’s not the only proposed zombie series in the works. Behold the viral marketing monster that is Alive. It’s kind of like The Blair Witch Project, only with less snot and a better monster payoff. Plus, it’s got a purported Star Trek link, so as to compound its nerdy goodness.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 32: The Zombie Beat

This episode takes its name from a particularly grisly motif used in the 2000 AD comic Bad Company. In case you’re unfamiliar with the book, let me break it down for you.

Bad Company follows the experiences of a platoon of miscreants fighting an alien race known as the Krool on a distant planet called Ararat. The story is told through the diary entries of Danny Franks, a young soldier who finds himself conscripted into the company’s after the slaughter of his own platoon.

The thing that always fascinated me as a kid reading these stories was the ruthlessness of the Krool. Perhaps their greatest tactical advantage was the implementation of War-Zombies. Employing their alien technology to create an ultra high-frequency “zombie beat,” the Krool would quite literally send the enemies resurrected dead to attack their own front lines.

As a ten year-old, I didn’t see the poignancy of having soldiers literally haunted (hunted?) by their dead compatriots, but the concept alone was enough to scare the shit out of me and feed and already sizable zombie-phobia.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 32: The Zombie Beat [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 42.8 MB Running Time: 46:50

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
When the zombie apocalypse rears its rotten head, I want these two cats on my team.

Track 1: Bush Sees New Threat dialogue / Jonathan Coulton – “Re Your Brains”
Being assaulted by zombies is bad enough. Realizing that their leader is that asshole from the next cubicle is pure horror. Bravo, Mr. Coulton.

Z’s 1st interlude: “I have had an alarming number of people request a zombie-themed episode.”
You guys want zombies? Well, I’ll give you zombies!

Track 2: Night of the Living Dead dialogue / Switchblade KittensAll Cheerleaders Die
I’ll fight any man who speaks ill of Drama’s end-of-verse squeak in this track. It really makes the song.

Track 3: ZeaLouS1 – “Necrophilianomenon

I’ve always known that Z1 has a thing for zombies. I just didn’t realize it was, y’know, kinky.

Track 4: Theme from Zombie / Return of the Living Dead dialogue / The Misfits – “Night of the Living Dead”
The Misfits are rendered even dorkier by a complete and total lack of self-awareness.

Track 5: Zombie dialogue / Redneck Zombies dialogue / Glenn Case – “Sea of Zombies
Glenn has a song for all occasions. Let there be no mistaking.

Track 6: The Sprites – “George Romero
Leave it to Matt to throw some infectious indie pop into the mix. This is, perhaps, the most upbeat song about the undead of all time.

Track 7: Mr. Fab – “Cannibal Zombie Mom
Contrary to what I said, “Dark Shadows Chachacha” was not included in the final mix. Perhaps I’ll throw it in next episode.

Track 8: Night of the Living Dead dialogue / The Besties – “Zombie Song”
Be sure to check out this live video of “Zombie Song.” It’s a tragic tale of post-mortem romance.

Z’s 2nd interlude: The brains – no pun intended – behind Revenant, the Web’s premiere zombie magazine.”
Let me, once again, thank DJ Chubby Cheeks for hooking me up with some creepy beats. Give him some love on MySpace and don’t forget to peep Revenant.

Track 9: Theme from Redneck Zombie / Wednesday 13 – “I Walked with a Zombie”
Wednesday 13 is from Charlotte, so he’s sort of a local favorite. If you’re looking for a perfect blend of Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, the Murderdolls, the Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, and his solo work are all highly recommended.

Track 10: DJ Chubby Cheeks – “Cognac” / What to do In a Zombie Attack dialogue
Check out What to do In a Zombie Attack for survival tips and patriotic posturing.

Track 11: Theme from Night of the Living Dead / Return of the Living Dead dialogue / Songs To Wear Pants To – “Shoot the Zombies
Songs To Wear Pants To apparently writes songs by request. Thanks to Church for directing me to this one.

Track 12: DJ Snyder – “Monstrous (feat. Brainthirst)
Inclusion of nerdcore’s only zombie MCs seemed obligatory.

Track 13: Zombie Nation vs. Goblin – “Zombiv vs. Kernkraft 400 (Osymyso mix)”
Inclusion of some Shaun of the Dead also seemed compulsory.

Z’s finale interlude: “I’ve always sort of wondered about the correlation between nerds and zombies.”
Nerds love zombies. Zombies also love nerds, though, so I suppose it’s alright.

Track 15: Young Zombies in Love soundtrack – “Life Ahead of Us” / Redneck Zombies dialogue
I thought I’d change shit up and end on an upbeat track. The “knockers” thing was sort of an afterthought. ;)

There are a lot of songs about zombies, and, by simple virtue of topic, they’re pretty much all nerdy. The walking dead just seem to perk up the old creativity-bone; zombies are cool like that.

I’ve always purported that I’m more concerned about a zombie plague than domestic terrorism. Why? Well, while I don’t know how many sleeper cells there are in upstate South Carolina, I do know there are a helluva lot more corpses.