Friday, March 14, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

There are lots of different types of nerds, and many of them are what you might call handy. You know the type: crafters, engineers, tinkerers and the like. Guys and gals who are good with their hands and can build or fix or mod damn-near anything swell within our ranks. This is a nerdy trait, to be sure.

Unfortunately, I seemed to have been shorted in this particular area.

Last night, in preparation for that ever-approaching due date, I decided it might be a good idea to put the new infant car seats in our automobiles. I was able to get both properly installed, but only after hours of arduous work and a string of profanities that blanketed the neighborhood like a wicked fog.

Truthfully, I felt a little bad about that – the problem with the safety seats, not the swearing – but then I remembered that each of us has a different dorky skillset. Mine, it just so happens, doesn’t generally lend itself to physical labor. Unfortunately, writing a well researched 5 paragraph essay about car seats just doesn’t seem to get the damn things installed.

  • Nerdy politics update: Thanks to my always helpful associate Church for hipping me to another in what’s becoming a veritable avalanche of geeky political stories during this election year. Apparently, Obama is a Star Trek fan. Suddenly, all the nerdy musician endorsements make since!
  • Anarchy in the UK: Dan (of NC4L) is looking for UK nerdcore artists. Not to be in the film, mind you, which is pretty much already done, but to talk to an English reporter doing an article on the genre. If you fit the bill and would like to have Dan pass on your contact info to this gent – who writes, coincidentally, for a “big paper” – contact Dan via RT or email him at Nerdcoreforlife-at-gmail-dot-com.
  • Twilight to Midnight: UK game rockers Spheres of Chaos have just released an excellent new EP through their Netlabel Pterodactyl Squad. Check out Stratospheria – particularly shit-hot track “Megafauna” – as well as the label’s other free VGM and chiptune albums. Where so much of game-related music is heavily bent toward well-worn classics, Pterodactyl offers something truly unique: original compositions and non-traditional (read: independent or non-existent) game soundtracks. Definitely take a listen!
  • Sweet home Tacoma: MC Gigahertz is playing a gig next week in his native Tacoma, WA at Bob's Java Jive (2102 S Tacoma Way). Fellow MCs 508 Disturbance are also on the bill. The show starts at 9:00 PM on Friday, March 21st, and it’s 3 bones at the door. This is a 21+ affair, so be legal or at least look that way.
  • Too much (Donky Business): Much nerd love to my pal Hex for hipping me to borderline ridiculous but no less awesome mash-up album Donkey Business by Norwegian Recycling, an album that he was introduced to via my home-skillet Ant from GM4A. The crux of the album is that the producer took songs from the Donkey Kong Country franchise and mashed them with acappellas from Eminem, Skee-Lo, Jurassic 5, and the like. Even better: it’s free!
  • All nerd, all the time: The Spork of Rocket Propelled Geeks just announced that Rocket Propelled Radio – the net’s first 24-hour all nerd music station – now has its own site. Check it out. Request some songs. Waste company time and company bandwidth while simultaneously getting your geek on. Oh, what a world we live in!
  • This year’s SXSW saw its fair share of nerdy music represented, particularly with regard to the film portion of the event. The Wrock tinged We Are Wizards, the chippy Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet, The Front-a-licious Nerdcore Rising, and the MMORPG centered Second Skin (which totally counts in this context as it includes a track by my man Random), are all coming out of the festival with positive reviews and healthy buzz. Congrats to the stars, crews, and filmmakers all around. Now please show these docs somewhere within driving distance of my locality!
  • Spokane for (C’mon, that punny!): And to take us into the weekend, here’s another little piece of documentary news. Thanks go out to my bro Matt for reminding me of the recent announcement concerning the Wizard Rockumentary. The film will be premiering in nerd Mecca Spokane, WA at 11:59 PM on April 11th, 2008 at the Garland Theatre. Check out the trailer below and find your appetite for geeky music docs once again whetted.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

My lovely wife is currently what can only be termed crazy pregnant. A lady should not be required to be as pregnant as she is right now. It just seems inhumane. Unnatural. Patently uncomfortable.

How a woman can carry an ever-growing child for nine months, and then, when it reaches its largest point, pass it in front of a room full of strangers, and not totally hate the frail, wailing creature that results is sort of amazing to me. And let us not forget that my wife’s already done this once before. She totally knows what she’s getting into.

Suffice it to say, in her current state, Em isn’t exactly in the mood for my unique brand of bullshitery. As such, I spend even more time than usual tending to Li’ X. or, failing that, entertaining myself.

To that end, I just purchased Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Should you care to take a hand at beating the ever-loving hell out of me via online multiplayer, my code is 1246-8385-6262. But don’t get pissed if I have to cut out of a match in a hurry. At this point childbirth is imminent.
  • Roll 1d20 for all the friends that I made: No sooner had I completed RFH 41 than I discovered that Doctor Popular had made his own tribute to Gary Gygax. Fuck! That totally should’ve been in the show! Check it out at thesixtyone or at the Drown Radio site to find out why.
  • Preliminary pimpage: On a related note, Doc also graced me with a sneak preview of his new album Me Geek Pretty One Day, and it’s pretty damn phenomenal. He manages to cover hip-hop, glitchy instrumentals, slightly skewed R&B, and even indie pop ably! Plus, there are a ton of extras, and, though they’re optimized for his fellow iPhone users, the MP3 ringtones and wallpaper work fine on other phones as well. But I’ve said too much! More on this as the release date draws nigh.
  • Easter gig = obligatory Peeps joke: funky49, Redvoid, Krondor Krew, and Emergency Pizza Party will be playing at The Uptown Bar in St. Petersburg on Saturday, March 26th. The flyer boasts music, alcohol, foosball, and bunnies. For three bucks a head, that’s a pretty sweet setup.
  • Why Can't I Shoot The Dog?: Comedy rap act Sudden Death has, at long last, released its new album Fatal Error. Priced at $9.99 for 16 tracks, 2 bonus songs, a video interview, and a video game, it’s a pretty easy sell. Sudden Death will also be playing some gigs that may (or may not) be in your area: 3/28-3/30 - Memphis, TN @ MidSouthCon, 4/4-4/6 - Stony Brook, NY @ I-CON, 4/25-4/27 - Richmond, VA @ RavenCon, and 7/4 - Orlando, FL @ Nerdapalooza II.
  • So rad the extra d is canonical: Geeky rockers Totally Radd! also have some shows lined up in the near future, starting tonight in Las Vegas at Revolution Lounge in the Mirage. The rest of the itinerary breaks down as such: 3/12/08 - Santa Fe, NM @ High Mayhem, 3/15/08 - Austin, TX @ NYLON Magazine Party, 3/16/08 - Austin, TX @ Emo’s, and 3/18/08 - Phoenix, AZ @ Ruby Room with The Minibosses!
  • Behind my whiskers: The collective bane of Dr. Wily’s existence, The Protomen, are also playing a number of gigs, specifically in Illinois. Here it go: 3/27/08 - Chicago @ Empty Bottle, 3/28/08 – Chicago @ Ronny's, 3/29/08 - Springfield, IL @ Black Sheep. They also have a new song up for free download. It’s about beards. I’m totally not making this shit up.
  • A winner is he: Last month, mc chris was interviewed by a program called The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, of which he is an alum. You can check out all three parts of the interview at mc’s site, and you can view a young Chris Ward's award winning piece at
  • Help a sister out: On the Wrock side of the fence, Matt reminded me to mention that Lena of The Butterbeer Experience is lobbying to be included, on some level, in the process of scoring Warner Brother’s take on the final chapter in the Harry Potter series. It’s a long shot and petitions like this don’t have the best track record, but dreams, my friends, are made of sturdy stuff! Peep Wizrocklopedia for the full story, and offer your signature to the cause if the spirit moves you.
  • New hotness: nYgel, no doubt sensing that I needed something to listen to, recently posted a new remix. Check out his MySpace for the “Hardly Tell Remix” featuring YTCracker, Elijah Lucian, Conyeezy, and what appears to be the guitar hook from the chorus of Weezer’s “Say it Ain’t So.” Also on nYg’s MySpace player are around 1/3 of the tracks off his forthcoming release Free to a Good Home. You’ll wanna check these out.
  • ALL CAPS: Rhyme Torrents moderator Attack Slug also just dropped a new track. It features KABUTO and is called “Insanity.” He’s also made an acappella available in case other producers want to take a stab at remixing it.
  • Not to be confused with Scott: Via my pal Ant from GM4A, La Rock Inc. Records has a new compilation album coming out on April 8th featuring the likes of Dual Core and Square Wail. Moreover, each week La Rock will be posting tracks from the album on their MySpace player for your enjoyment. Check it out and spread the word.
  • Incontrovertibly pimp: And to wrap things up, here a little vid that Church hipped me to from nerdcore icon Monzy. It’s called “So Fucking Pimp.” And it is indeed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 41: The There be (Dungeons &) Dragons Mixtape

Interestingly enough, this episode got its start as an actual mixtape. A group of my friends from high school do a regular CD swap a few times a year, and this was to be one of my submissions. Unfortunately, it sort of ran out of steam and set unfinished for months, silently mocking me from its seemingly insignificant folder on my desktop.

Given that my free time is further dwindling due to the eminent birth of our new arrival, I struck upon the idea to turn it into a podcast, to build on what I already had and make a second RFH mixtape. The WFWFTW mix was, by leaps and bounds, my most popular episode to date and folks regularly ask me for another. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the people what they want.

And then, right in the middle of my fevered editing, Gary died, making this edition a little more relevant.

The final product is, in part, a memorial to Gygax. However, in a broader sense, it’s more a love letter to the tabletop gamer.

Some of these tracks are explicitly about or specifically mention Dungeons & Dragons. Some are about other, related games. Some of them simply contain the sort of fantastic storytelling and toothless aggression that we dice-slingers know and love. And some ably mock our pastime and our attitudes. But let us remember, that in order to properly scorn the geek lifestyle, one must have an intimate knowledge of our culture and rituals. To adequately crack wise at our expense generally outs you as one of us. We’re bulletproof in that regard.

This episode feels a bit less cohesive than its predecessor. In fact, it sounds to me more like a collection of loose musical vignettes bound together by the dialogue from that classic Dead Alewives bit. A series of modules, if you will, which I imagine most of you may find fitting.

As I know you might not be intimately familiar with all of the included tracks, here are the customary show notes to let you know those responsible for the musical portion of this mix. Some of them might seem almost profanely ungeeky, but trust me; they each play a role.

Questions and comments regarding this edition (or damn near anything else you may find of interest) are encouraged, and your time and consideration are, as always, appreciated.

And for the record, you won’t be punished with an experience penalty for listening to this across multiple sittings. I am nothing if not a fair DM.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 41: The There be (Dungeons &) Dragons Mixtape [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 68.3 MB Running Time: 1:14:40

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)” / funky49 – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (Cover – Redux)
I decided to include the “theme song gets fucked up because it’s a mixtape and not a regular edition” motif again. My pal funky49 was nice enough to do his own cover version of the track, and this seemed like good time to use it. If anyone else is interested in putting their own spin on the theme, I may decide to make using alternate themes a habit for special mixtape eps.

Background Music :
The background music used behind Crystal’s introduction is from the classic D&D arcade/Saturn title Shadow Over Mystara. It seemed only fitting.

Track 1: A Tribe Called Quest – “Scenario”
Busta Rhymes spouting “Raaaahr raaaahr like a dungeon dragon” is universally agreed on as one of hip-hop’s nerdiest moments.

Track 2: The Misfits – “London Dungeon”
I decided early on that, in addition to songs about/referencing gaming, I also wanted some songs about dragons. It seemed only fitting, then, that I also had some about dungeons.

Track 3: Frontalittle Squad – “Saving Throw
Yes; that really is Tycho rapping the last verse. He is multitalented.

Track 4: Shael Riley – “Down with Bane
Not only does this one cover D&D, it also references a number of classic White Wolf franchises. Shael has tabletop acumen to spare.

Track 5: Jay-Zeezer – “Allure in the Garage” / Weezer – “In the Garage” / FLomid – “In the Garage”
This is what I like to call my “In the Garage” medley. Sure, many of us actually gamed in the kitchen or den, but I felt it worked in context.

Track 6: ZeaLouS1 – “Double Dragon (feat. Super Dragon X)”
From Z1’s Collaboc1de; this one features SDX of Metamystiks. It is fierce.

Track 7: Swollen Members – “Red Dragon Whoa”
Swollen are another act that ain’t exactly “nerd music,” but I love the band, the song, and the way that it rolls out of the “Double Dragon.” Plus, I’ve always thought that MMI and Swollen Members have a certain level of lyrical aggression in common.

Track 8: Brad Neely – “Be Aggressive Brad”
A last minute addition, I’m almost shamed to say. In retrospect, I don’t know why it wasn’t on the original playlist.

Track 9: Queen – “Dragon Attack (1991 Bonus Remix by R.A.K. and Jack Benson)”
What can I say? What nerd doesn’t love Queen?

Track 10: Grandmaster Pink & Diabolik – “Rollin 20’s
This is the song that singlehandedly started the whole project. One of Pink and D’s best.

Track 11: Mazedude Kid Icarus Funky Dungeon OC ReMix
More dungeon-y goodness courtesy of OverClocked ReMix. I love the music from Kid Icarus, and this really drives home how enchanting those melodies truly are.

Track 12: DragonForce – “Storming the Burning Fields”
Nerd metal at its finest, or, at least, its most accessible. I think a lot of people probably never even realized this group existed until Guitar Hero 3. While their style is borderline obnoxious, you really have to respect their talent.

Track 13: Taika – “Shining in the Darkness: Down in the Dungeon Just Creatures and Me OC ReMix
Once again, when you want quality songs about dungeons, look no further than OCR!

Track 14: Dorothée – “Sourire du Dragon”
The theme song from the French language version of the old cartoon.

Track 15: Krondor Krew – “I Play D&D
I could not, in good conscience, make a Dungeons & Dragons podcast without including this one. Krondor Krew love them some RPGs. Shinobi’s bit at the end is one of my favorite moments of this podcast.

Track 16: Mastodon – “Crystal Skull”
Though obviously not a nerd metal outfit, Mastodon boasts some of the most dork-friendly sci-fi/fantasy concept albums of the modern age. They also appeared in the ATHF movie, which gives them nerd points whether they want ‘em or not.

Track 17: Lords of the Rhymes – “Orc Interlude
Technically, this song should’ve probably been about Ogres, but I think that a LOTR track was long overdue by this point.

Track 18: Beefy – “Tabletop”
From Beef’s forthcoming album Rolling Doubles. He was nice enough to leak the track to me for inclusion. Okay, so maybe leak isn’t wholly correct.

Track 19: Stephen Lynch – “D and D
I’m not a real big fan of Lynch, but the song was fitting. Plus, he’s funnier than Dane Cook. But then again, so are most things.

Background Music:
Crystal’s second bit is backed up by music from Tower of Doom, SoM’s sequel.

Track 20: Uncle Monsterface – “(thank you) Gary Gygax
Uncle Monsterface conceded to let me use their new tribute track as an outro. It seemed like a fitting place to end. Much thanks to the band for favoring me with the song.

The Zen of JoCo

A couple of weeks back I had the good fortune to interview nerd troubadour Jonathan Coulton for GeekDad. I’m not sure if it’ll go down in the annals of dork history as a defining moment of music blogging or anything, but Jonathan was great and I think the piece really came together. It was posted this morning, so head on over and take a look. If you feel so inclined, feel free to Digg or Stumble or… um… Reddit… Redd… Redditit… Okay, I have no idea what the proper verb tense of "Reddit" is in this situation.

At any rate, links to relevant social bookmarking sites are at the end of the post. Lemme know what you think.