Friday, January 25, 2008

More Nerd News in Brief

In all my preparation for the new kid, it’s important that I not forget the kid I already have. I mean, shit, he’s practically still brand new himself; though not as new as he used to be. Why, in scant days he will be celebrating his 3rd birthday. That’s a pretty big one for a kid, as it marks a glorious time when he realizes that he’s getting older but he hasn’t yet developed the faculties to realize that one day he’ll get old. Like dad.

Hell, Li’l X. has already received his first birthday gift. Yesterday I checked the mail to find an unexpected parcel that, it turned out, contained a little something from Matt, Church, and the GF. It was this delightful “That’s How I Roll” D20 t-shirt.

Thus far, it’s been a big hit with the entire family!

As X. currently has no concept of table-top gaming, though, I’m afraid he simply equates the iconic twenty-sider with my tattoo. So he refers to the shirt – exclusively, mind you – as his tattoo.

I’m sure that’s gonna spark an interesting conversation between me and the ladies at day care.

  • Knocked up nerds: In a related story, check out Geek Parenting’s Baby Shower Gifts for Pregnant Nerds. Though I, myself, am not pregnant, it is of note that after receiving the aforementioned t-shirt I now have 3 of those 5 items on-hand. Hmmmm. Perhaps I’ll have to put together my own list of geek baby shower ideas next week.
  • Capthcha and release: Antisocial is getting his moment in the spotlight over at Reddit. My Texan brother is currently number 6 on the front page with the headline “Clicking this link loads 120,000 copies of the RIAA's captcha. Clicking would be wrong, don't do it.” Will you click it? I dare not say.
  • Heavy Eyes: Soc also pointed out to me that, while I bumped them on my year-end podcast, I never made a formal announcement concerning the new album from The Deprecation Guild. In Her Gentle Jaws is an amazing blend of dance rock, indie pop, and chiptunes. It’s also free. Download it now.
  • I must be getting senile: Last month Don Vito hit me up with a sweet preview of a new track from his forthcoming album Geek Funk Vol 2... True Tales of an Online Gangsta, and I completely neglected to mention it! (My apologies, DV.) A concept album of sorts, Geek Funk Vol. 2 “revolves around the concept of taking net life and applying [it] over 90's style westcoast G-Funk beats.” Vito is handling all of the production, and you can get a little taste at his Social Case.
  • Support your local Grammar Club: If you haven’t already, you might want to consider joining the forums over at The Grammar Club Web site. It’s a good way to stay in the loop concerning band news, info on their hot new remix kits, and other interesting developments.
  • Crapbots vs. Bad Robots: The only thing stranger than real commercials is fake commercials. And the only thing weirder than Dan Lamoureux making a documentary about nerdcore is Dan Lamoureux also winning a Cloverfield tie-in make-your-won-Slusho-spot contest. No foolin’. Dan says, “The 5 best commercials get a super fancy $3000 "Slusho" Alienware laptop. Since that's more than my car is worth my laptop will be on ebay minutes after I get my hands on it. I had to assign my copywrite to Slusho (AKA: Bad Robot Productions) which now that I think about it as actually a pretty good prize in and of itself because now I can say that JJ Abrams owns the rights to some of my material.” So if you’re looking for an ultra-limited edition laptop, you might want to keep an eye on this. And you'll definitely want to peep his video.
  • Far from news: This is pretty much the equivalent of me remarking that the world is, in fact, round, but I am totally hooked on thesixtyone. Glenn warned me that the site was “like CRACK to people like us,” and he was right. I’m gonna suggest that you join up and start checking out all the cool shit there too, both because it’s an amazing way to support your favorite musicians (and find news ones) and because zombies must propagate.
  • I paid the full price: To wrap up today’s NNIB, let me share with you a vid that a number of people (from Matt to Brux to everyone in between) have sent to me this week. It’s Pete Miser’s musing on the joy of iPhone ownership. I’m sure Church, Doc Pop, and the rest of you iPhone owners agree.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 38: But Seriously, Folks…

I kind of refused to agonize over this edition of RFH.

That’s not to say that the podcast is, in general, agonizing, but I do tend to get a little overly concerned with the mechanics of an episode. Things like track transitions and show length – while they probably seem fairly arbitrary – are usually plotted weeks in advance.

This time around I didn't let myself do that; I just threw a bunch of great songs together and hoped for the best. The edges are maybe frayed a bit, but I think it came together.

But I reckon your opinion is the one that matters. ;)

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 38: But Seriously, Folks… (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 44.6 MB Running Time: 48:47

Show Notes

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
The funnest song of them all. Yep: funnest.

Track 1: Steve Martin – “Ramblin’ Man (Theme From)”
It was either this or “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Competition was stiff.

Z’s first interlude: “Higher artistic value.”
I often tend to try and make artistic statement in this podcast via the art of others. This is not one of those times.

Track 2: Tanner4105 – “Intro” and “The Luda King”
I stand corrected.

Track 3: The Advantage – “Ninja Gainden (Mine Shaft)”
Man, I need to break down and buy another Advantage album!

Track 4: 14 Year Old Girls – “Q-Tip Bliss”
There’s a video for this track that I had somehow managed not to notice up to this point. It’s very Q*Bert.

Track 5: The Weasel King – “Luna
The musical scope of Wizard Rock never ceases to amaze.

Track 6: A+D – “Pour Some Hot Sugar
As I commented in the show itself, there are a lot of mash-ups this ep. I don’t anticipate any bitching.

Track 7: MC Frontalot – “Penny Arcade Theme (Katamari Mix Live)
Yes, Front sounds winded in this one, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever seen the bald dynamo perform live.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “You have these deadlines.”
With the new kid on the way, I’ve really been feeling pressure to get stuff done while I still have the option, but that tends to make this seem more like a job than a hobby. So expect a more relaxed (but hopefully still productive) Z. in the near future.

Track 8: The Onion Radio News – “Blues Musician To U.N.: 'Yemen Done Me Wrong'
The composer of such blues classics as “Dead Cow Blues” and “Butter My Bread.”

Track 9: DJ Lobsterdust – “Walkin’ Yo’ Girlfriend Out
The glory of bastard pop is that it can take a handful of songs I can’t stand and transmute them into a single track that I love.

Track 10: The Grammar Club – “Heart Tits
The Grammar Club represent all that is good about nerdy music. They make sweet musical love to your earhole.

Track 11: Beefy – “Be Aggressive
For those who haven’t heard the original.

Track 12: Pixel8 – “We Can All See Rainbows”
Historically, RFH is a little light on the chiptunes and the Wrock. This year I’m’a try and fix that.

Track 13: The Four Eyes – “For the Horde”
By show of hands, who here doesn’t play World of Warcraft? Just me, huh?

Z’s final interlude: “Putting together a second Hipster, please! compilation.”
I’m not being quite so tightlipped about this one as I was Nerdcore Undercover. I’m not trying to over-hype it or anything, but I do like to let folks know that something else is coming down the pipe.

Track 14: Z-Trip – “Breakfast Club (ft. Murs & Supernatural)”
“I used to like to get a big, fat bowl of cereal and watch cartoons, motherfucker, and if you can’t relate to this song you’re taking this shit too serious.”

Unnecessary bonus track: “Mr. Yuk
A terribly low bitrate version of a song that still creeps me the fuck out. Blame Church for its inclusion.

Your cries for a second mixtape episode have been heard, and you should be getting one soon.

In February? Possibly, but certainly, y’know, eventually. In the meantime, let me know what you thought of this one. And if you found a new artist that you dig, take a look at their site and give some of their other stuff a listen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

In one of our daily bullshit sessions – our regularly scheduled bullshittery, if you will – Matt directed Church and me to this article.

For those too lazy to click, let me break it down: superheroes are among us.

Oh yeah.

Real. Life. Superheroes.

Now most of these cats aren’t packing the X-gene and I don’t imagine many of them have been bitten by a radioactive gopher or anything. By and large they seem to be training-/gadget-based heroes. Cut-rate Bruce Waynes.

But the important part is that they do good; not by brutalizing mugger (usually) but by volunteering their time and focusing on their civic duties. Sure the costumes may be a bit of a stretch, but I like to think of this as nerdy activism in its purist form.
  • Cute and evil: Today’s edition of Geek Ink is brought to you by Matt, and it features Hello Kitty. And also Star Wars. At the same time!
  • The Lasso of Truth: Do you have a problem that you just can’t solve on your own? Do you feel lost and in desperate need of some advice from a caring and responsible paragon of virtue. Then do what Church does; Ask Golden Age Wonder Woman!
  • Technically that’s 12 eyes: This Sunday, January 20th, Cali geek garage rockers The Four Eyes will be playing at Thrillhouse Records Basement in San Francisco with Underground Railroad to Candy Land, Can of Beans, and The Blood Muffins. The show starts at 7:00 PM (and ends at or before 10:00PM), and the boys will be playing “second to last.” Show up and give ‘em some love.
  • BBW BBQ: D-Form, the current King of the Crate Diggers, is offering remix kits from his group The Chubby Chasers’ 2007 release Mass Appeal. D says the Chasers would love to hear anyone who’s interested take a spin, and that if enough producers respond they might “make it a free mixtape style download from our site and everyone will get some love from that.” As nerds and plus-size ladies have a shared history, I’d love to see this project take off. So, get to mixin'.
  • Even gayer: Also on the remix tip, my boy nYgel just dropped his remix of The Grammar Club’s “My Gayest Shirt.” In addition to all the nerdy goodness already inherent in the track, nYg also added a special verse by the Former Fat Boys. Dig it!
  • Not a cover: Nerdcore MC Able-X has released a teaser track from his forthcoming album. It is funky. Quite funky. You should listen to it.
  • Brat on the beat: Matt directed me to this amazing online reproduction of the original Roland TR-909. Yes, it’s fully functional. The machine that launched a thousand geeky techno artists is alive and well. And now it lives on the Internets.
  • Not just trivia – International trivia!: Hearty congratulations go out to Harry and the Potters for what has to be Wrock’s oddest honor; they were just informed that the band is the answer to a question in the Swedish version of Trivial Pursuit. And with that, the nerd cred scale has been crushed to a fine powder.
  • Feed the tree: In other Wrocking news, The Whomping Willows has posted a song-by-song breakdown of his new album. Take a gander and get a real artist’s-eye view of the project. Thanks to my bro Matt for pointing me toward this one!
  • The gift that keeps on giving the whole year: Matt also hipped me to new info concerning this year’s installment of the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club. Apparently the response was so great last year (the club generated $13,000 for the charity First Book through sales of these EPs) that the project is going to continue in 2008. If sixty bones for a dozen EPs sounds like a deal to you – and it definitely should – check out subscription information here.
  • Too weird not to be true: An all-geek dating site? Yep, it exists. And Church found it. Sweet On Geeks is the place “where Gray Matters,” and, while it doesn’t do old domesticated bastards like us any good, you might be able to find the nerd of your dreams. Check it out, and let me know if it works.
  • Future shock: Apparently, at this year’s MAGfest, future Glenn Case came back in time to prevent present-day Glenn and Shael from performing a substandard version of The Grammar Club’s “Bank Holiday.” I know that sounds a little suspect, but why would Glenn lie? I mean, somebody had to pull that fire alarm. For more on these sinister dealings, as well as a look at all of the many delightful occurrences at MAGfest VI, peep the following vid from the fine folks at PBC Productions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snark Trek: A Musical Journey

The 501st.As I mentioned last week, Church and the GF took in a bit of culture on Saturday as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presented its Sci-Fi Spectacular. Not only was this event resplendent with reimaginings of the music from some of everyone's favorite sci-fi and fantasy franchises, but it was also narrated by Sulu – or, if you prefer, Kaito Nakamura – himself, George Takei.

In the grand tradition of Church doing my work for me, he was nice enough to share their impressions of the event: the good, the bad, and the snarky. He also included some pictures, which, I am assured, are worth several thousand words.

Read on to find out exactly how much the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall looks like the Imperial Senate, how severely the venue gouges thirsty patrons for a glass of wine, and who hasn’t seen E.T. (Hint: It ain’t Church.)


Sci-Fi Spectacular with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff, 2008-01-19:
Jack Everly, Principal Pops Conductor
George Takei, Sulu
Mike Eldred, Broadway Guy
Kristen Plumley, Vocalist Girl
Old Line Garrison, 501st Legion, Security

Sad commentary on the times: we were running late (GF's fault) and split up to do coat-check and find our seats. The GF got confused and asked someone in uniform if they worked there, only to realize that it was a Death Star Officer. Perhaps appropriate, since we realized that the interior of the Meyerhoff somewhat resembles the Imperial Senate.


Main Star Wars Theme
As we were running late, we had to wait outside while this played. I've heard it at a bunch of Pops concerts while, oddly, the GF never had. It's the Star Wars theme. 'nuff said.

Lost in Syndication (Various TV Themes)
A medley including Space 1999, BSG, and The Jetsons theme. If you haven't heard The Jetsons arranged for Symphony and Choir, you haven't heard it. Kudos for not being snarky about it. It's so much more decadent to hear it straight. Also, first violin was cool. He was very much into playing this (which I guess is why he's first violin.) The GF was impressed by the Outer Limits closing theme. They took all the pathos and creepiness of the Outer Limits and channeled it through the string section. The Stargate theme is even awesomer live. John Williams-esque, but without the conceits. The GF thought they also included some incidental SG-1 music.

Adventures on Earth: ET the Extra Terestrial
The GF has never seen this movie. (So she's the one.) Music was OK. Not my fave.

Superman March
Broadway guy sang ret-conned lyrics. Interesting, because this version of the lyrics was from Supes' perspective (it's usually from Lois'.) I thought he was starting meekly and then growing into the part. The GF thought he was out of tune, but then found his way. She's probably right.

Star Trek through the Years.
Introduced by Takei, who cruelly teased us by introducing a 'lieutenant' who turned out *not* to be Nichelle, but the vocalist girl in a red TOS uniform. This show opened in Bethesda (Rockville, really) and they apparently weren't aware that they weren't in Baltimore, so they had acted as if they were. Hat tip to them for not only owning up to it, but making it part of the act (they blamed it on faulty transporter coordinates.)

Thank fraking gods they didn't do the Roddenberry lyrics to the original theme. I was really worried about that. Nope, vocalist girl did a bang up AHHHHHH-AHHH job. They fucked up the DS-9 theme (or, arranger Calvin Custer did.) There's a chord change in the first half that was missed, according to the GF. I'm no musician but I noticed it too. It's the part that really grabs you.

I got some pix of the 501st while the GF got some wine. Unfortunately, getting a seven dollar glass of Gallo took the entirety of Intermission so we waited outside during:

Theme from 2001 ("Also Sprach Zarathustra")
The GF thought that there were more interesting parts of that score that they could have done, but I reminded her that it was a Pops concert, and Pops is short for Popular.

A veritable nerd herd.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Nice, although the GF missed the Mashed Potatoes theme, while I wanted a bigger 5-note theme. (Take note, Jack.)

Enterprise Theme
Sung by Broadway Guy.
I hated it.
The GF loved it.

Hedwig's Flight

Awesome. We're not sure what the dinky-piano is (I had always thought it was a glockenspiel or something) but we love that they used it.

About here (it's not in the program notes) they broke into "When You Wish Upon A Star" which was a bit odd. Probably because it gave the vocalists something to do.

Somewhere in Time
Nice and lush. More typical of a Hollywood score than most of the rest of the concert, but that's not a criticism. As the GF says, it *could* have been the theme to Dr. Zhivago; it's not as obviously a genre piece.

The Day The Earth Stood Still Suite
Absolutely the opposite of the previous piece. Genre to its pointy ears, although it was rescored by conductor, so the strings were standing in for theremins. It worked really well. The vocalist was contributing to some parts, oddly stationed behind the percussionists. Takei contributed the closing speech by Klaatu, in that singular Takei way. Also, Bernard Hermann was the shit.

Duel of the Fates/The Throne Room/End Credits (Star Wars I and IV)
John Williams goes Choral! Huzzah! This was the best use of the lasers in the show. It made me realize how hard it is to pull off a laser show (for people who aren't stoned.) They are by nature very binary, while music is usually not.

Not Laser FLoyd.

Inevitable gripes: No Firefly? C'mon! If you can rearrange The Day The Earth Stood Still, you can rearrange that. No "Imperial March"? The 501st is in the Fraking Lobby!! How cool would it have been to end playing that with them marching down the aisle? (Very cool is the answer.)

I wanted to chat with the 501st afterwards, but they were trying to clear out the place (I'm guessing people don't normally hang out in the lobby after a concert.) They had to limit 'getting picture taken with' opportunities to staff at that point.

All in all, a very fun concert. We were seriously considering going back to see the Sunday show, but those tickets weren't cheap (or readily available.)