Friday, February 15, 2008

Childe Roland to the Dork Shower Came

I am involved in what you might term a mixed marriage. I am a huge dork. My wife? Not so much.

Because of this we don’t see eye-to-eye on some things. I, for example, like to watch Doctor Who. She, on the other hand, prefers The Girls Next Door. (How that show can make naked women so interminably boring is both a mystery and an affront to God!) I listen to NESkimos while she prefers Nelly Furtado. I say tomato and she… well, she also says tomato, but I reckon you get the idea.

When she told me last week that the girls from work were throwing her a baby shower in anticipation of our new arrival, I was ecstatic; my love for free shit knows no bounds. But when we began adding items to our baby registry/wish list, our differences again became apparent.

What follows is my own personal list of nerdy baby shower presents. Each was summarily vetoed by my old lady, but maybe yours will be a bit more reasonable.

Here’s hoping you have better luck geeking your children up than I did!

The D&D character sheet onesie:

Sometimes you just need to know your kid’s stats. Like, maybe your baby wants to make an untrained skill check; how the hell else are you gonna know her ability modifier? I think I’ve proven my point.

Available at Jinx.

Baby’s First Mythos:

Reading to your children is fun and rewarding, so why not start them early on the road to an appreciation of classic geek lit? It's been proven to supplement cognitive development, and you’re never too young to be warned about the power of the Elder Sign.

Available at Amazon

Giant Microbes:

There’s been a big push of late to get girls interested in science, and there’s no better way to get your daughter hipped to the wonders of the natural world than by giving her a white blood cell plushie. Will it protect her from super-sized pathogens? It certainly couldn’t hurt!

Available at Giant Microbes

Rockabye Baby! lullaby albums:

Child-friendly covers of U2, Bob Marley, and The Ramones may not be nerdy, but they certainly are fun for the whole family. Lullaby renditions of Björk, though, are probably still pitchy and annoying.

Available at Rockabye Baby Music

Diaper bag alternative:

Those goddamn Juicy Couture diaper bags are horrible and unflattering, and I don’t just mean on the shoulders of unwitting fathers. They’re garish and quasi-functional at best. I much prefer the utilitarian messenger bag, of which this Bag of Holding is a perfect example. You won’t believe how much stuff you can get in there!

Available at ThinkGeek

NErDy bib:

Nothing says “this is my kid and I’ll dress her how I damn well please” quite like this bib. It’s especially relevant if one or more parents is a chemist. As well as those of us who aren’t above a little intellectual intimidation among the play group.

Available at Career Giggles

Baby Bot mobile:

Are you as sick or butterflies and jungle animals as I am? Then why not shake things up with a robot themed nursery! This robot-themed mobile is an excellent jumping-off point.

Available at Baby-Wise

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

Last week Li’ X. celebrated his 3rd birthday. We had his party at the local fire station, which just goes to show you how seriously we take our personal safety and tax dollars in the rural South.

In retrospect, the thing I find the strangest has less to do with the locale and more to do with the presents. His favorite gift seems to be his Play-Doh Fun Factory. This particular model looks strikingly similar to the one I had as a kid, which begs the question why the fuck have we not had any notable advances in Fun Factory technology within the last 3 decades?

I mean, come on, Hasbro, step up your game. Invest some money in Play-Doh R&D and let’s bring this thing into the 21st century. Do it for the children!
  • R.I.P.: Let’s start this week’s NNIB on an uncharacteristically somber note. As my friend Matt pointed out to me yesterday, we’ve recently lost a comic book great. Steve Gerber, known best for his creation Howard the Duck (the entertaining comic as opposed to the shitty movie) and more recently his work on Countdown to Mystery: Doctor Fate shuffled off this mortal coil last Sunday. He will be missed.
  • Say it ain’t so!: In other heartbreaking news, Glenn Case has left The Grammar Club. Citing the admittedly cliché “creative differences,” Glenn announced his departure early this morning. Quote the Raven, “It's nothing personal against any member of the project. In fact, I hope they will find a better multi-instrumentalist that can lead them to greater success than they have achieved with me.” As sad as I am to see him go, I can’t help but wish Glenn and his former bandmates the best.
  • Crit fail: Always on the look-out for the next meme, Church happened across The FAIL Blog, the only site where failure is, indeed, the only option. Go ahead and look; it’ll make you feel better about your own shortcomings.
  • All-beverage extravaganza: My Parents Favorite Music's second re-release EP Wheelo Exgirlfriends is here! Again! You know the deal: you give Steffo 5 bucks for a sticker and he gives you a CD to go with it. What’s not to love?
  • Nerdapalooza Southeast 2008 update: My boy Rob, otherwise known as mCRT, was nice enough to let me know that he and HexWarrior will be doing their first episode of the new weekly Nerdapalooza News radio show on Rocket Propelled Radio on February 19th at 9:00 PM. He later elaborated, saying that topics covered will include the venue, the performance lineup, ticket info, and dates. Yes, dates. As in more than one!
  • Loki Destroys Student-Run Radio Station, Film at 11:00: Last week MC Loki did an interview with RADIOKSOC. In addition to repping the scene in the larger sense, Loki also namedropped Whoremoans, 8 Bit Boys, Don Vito, Nerdapalooza, INFO2k8, and many more. He even made the file available for those who want to check it out.
  • Doowhatchalike!: I’m not the only cat making with the Valentine’s themed podcast. Random just released episode 11 of the RandomBeagle Show which celebrates the ladies of hip-hop. It also features an exclusive interview with Shock G of Digital Underground (whom you may remember as Humpty Hump.)
  • He’s got wood: killsaly has a new demo available for fans of Mega Man. He says that “Woodman” was “inspired by my own love of Mega Man, and Random’s 'Grow Up' beat.” You can peep the track at killsaly’s site.
  • He’s a Toys ‘R’ Us kid: In other Ran-related news, a new remix of Mega Ran's “Grow Up” (by my pal Antisocial) has just popped up over at the Mega Ran group. You have to be a member to hear it, but I think we can all agree that membership does have it’s privileges.
  • Vote the Wrock: It’s time for the 2008 Wizard Rock People's Choice Awards. This time around the voting process is pretty straightforward, you simply and paste the categories from Wizrocklopedia into an email and send it to For more info and a comprehensive list of awards, check out the ‘Pedia.
  • Maple Syrup Recanto: Folks in the Jersey area who are fans of both Wrock and… um… breakfast for dinner are invited to attend Wizards, Witches, and Pancakes at the IHOP in Bloomfield on Sunday, March 9th from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM. It’s $6 for adults, $5 for youth, and free for kids under 5, and everyone gets a buck off if they come “in costume or HP wear.” Thanks to Church for the link!
  • Hotdog-flavored ice-cream and the power of RAWK: Today, I leave you with a fine entry from our friend Z. of PBC Productions. Yes, another delightful episode of Little Miss Gamer! This time around, LMG takes on PS2 classic Gitaroo Man with the expectedly charming results.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 39: Last of the Crush Note Troubadours

The complicated love song is the bread and butter of Radio Free Hipster. This is what, like, the fourth time I’ve done a show centered around romance and heartbreak?!

Still, you can’t discount the importance of the lovesick ballad within the echelons of geeky music.

This time around I elected to focus more and singer-songwriters than rappers and DJs. Sure, you get some nerdcore and some mash-ups (and even a chiptune), but the vast majority of these tracks are firmly rooted in the guitar rock, folk, and, of course, tears.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 39: Last of the Crush Note Troubadours (hosting provided by Antisocial) Size: 46.3 MB Running Time: 50:35

Show Notes

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”

I love those boys like Joanie loves Chachi.

Track 1: Jonathan Coulton – “The Future Soon (Live)
This version of “The Future Soon” was recorded live in Second Life.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Flirting and miscommunication and missed opportunities.”
After you’ve done, essentially, the same show three or four times, you start looking for variations on a theme.

Track 2: The Fine Print – “English”
This was very nearly a sad affair. You see, “English” was my fourth and final Fine Print track. Thankfully, I found another couple of songs on their MySpace. Crisis averted.

Track 3: Roonil Wazlib – “Green Eyes”
Historically, my podcast selections tend to skew heavily toward male artists so this time around I made it a point to include some great tracks by females. This is one such song.

Track 4: Nullsleep – “Her Lazer Light Eyes
I've had people tell me they think of chiptunes as being sterile and devoid of character. I disagree, and I think this song is just as lively and organic and relatable as any more traditionally composed track.

Track 5: DJ Paul V. – “Tequila Lip Gloss (Lil Mama vs. The Champs)”
Another jewel from Mashup Town’s Best of 2007 comp.

Track 6: The Cure – “Boys Don’t Cry”
Geeks love The Cure.

Track 7: mc chris – “Boys Don’t Cry”
Wait. Why didn’t I save these for my same-name-different-song podcast? Shit!

Track 8: How Airplanes Fly – “Forget the Girl”
Some more excellent Wrock. This one was a special request from my pal Church.

Z’s 2nd interlude: “Romantic troubadour pathos.”
Sometimes even I can’t believe the shit I come up with.

Track 9: Glenn Case – “Wedding Song
The first of two Glenn Case songs in this episode. This is the sad one.

Track 10: Mary Prankster – “The World is Full of Bastards”
Sure, Mary’s “Valentine” would’ve been a more appropriate choice, but I like this one better. ;)

Track 11: Party Ben – “Tender Umbrella
Mash-ups are a convenient way for me to get non-nerdy acts (like General Public) into the podcast!

Track 12: RiddleTM – “Ballad of Ron and Hermione”
The Wrock scene has become home to many amazing musicians. RiddleTM are another example of that.

Track 13: Ultraklystron – “Gleam”
Any song from Karl’s Romance Language album would’ve sufficed, but I really love the groove of “Gleam.”

Z’s final interlude: “Love can and does work out… even for us dorks.”
That’s your Valentine’s card right there.

Track 14: Glenn Case and Rachael Layne – “Need Stilts
Glenn tells me he and Rachael are rerecording this one. I can’t wait to hear it!

And there you are, friends, more music for the lovelorn.

I guess you’re probably wondering if, with this installment, I’ve finally gotten this love songs songs/hate songs thing out of my system. The answer: not at all.

Awkward, heartbreaking, and very often ill effective love songs are at the heart of nerdy music, and each time I encounter a new song about, say, trying to romance a woman through World of Warcraft, I can’t help but start thinking of putting together another show in this interminable sequence. But I try to temper all these sweaty palms and tear-stationed cheeks with some tales of successful romance. Because, as Tom Petty once said, even the losers get lucky sometime.

Did you love this ep? Hate it? Come away with a sense of profound indifference? Either way, let me know. I always appreciate your comments.

I had next episode pegged for a mixtape, but I may put that off until March (also known as New Baby Month.) Hopefully, if we’ve all been living right, the next edition of RFH will coincide with the release of my newest compilation album. Only time will tell.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Long, Slow Crawl

I’m not sure if this is worthy of its own post, or even newsworthy at all within the broader sense, but I figured I’d throw it out there.

As I’ve already mentioned, a couple of weeks back I was invited on Wired’s Geekdad podcast as a special guest. The Geekdads are a great bunch of guys who manage to make the dudes-sitting-around-rapping-about-stuff method of podcasting both topical and sort of therapeutic. The life of a geeky dad is often a fairly solitary existence, so getting the opportunity to talk pop-shop with likeminded individuals is a treat.

It was a great experience, and I think it really helped me put into perspective the astoundingly wide array of attitudes and topics that exist under the umbrella of nerd culture. It was, in short, enjoyable for me both as geek and as a father.

Shortly thereafter, I again spoke to Editor Ken Denmead to thank him for the opportunity. As warm and accepting as the crew had been to me, this idle pleasantry felt altogether necessary. Ken responded in kind and then invited me to come onboard as a contributing writer to the Geekdad blog.

It’s not, as we in the South like to call it, a payin’ gig, but it’s an opportunity to get more exposure for my dorky ventures and, in turn, for those that these foolhardy schemes promote. I can’t see it really changing the way I do things around here, as the Z. from Hipster, please! will still be the same foul-mouthed, malcontent that you’ve come to love accept expect; it will just provide me with a chance to do a bit of writing with a more paternal slant.

Will it open up doors for me to go on to become the for-real writer that I’ve always longed to be? Probably not, but I don’t reckon it could hurt.

I know the relationship between Wired magazine and nerdy music has been fairly rocky and that I’ve probably cracked more jokes at Wired’s expense than most, but I’ve softened my stance, particularly since Jason Tanz came on as Senior Editor. Having the opportunity to interact with folks like Ken and Geekdad contributor Brian Little has given me further pause to reflect, and there really are some good guys over at Wired.

This could be another inroad in my crawl toward legitimacy, and, even if it's not, it's still fun. Let's not forget that this is even more important.

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