Friday, June 27, 2008

Q: Are We Not Men?

Church just hit me up with a link to an interesting post at Club DEVO, the new wave nerds' official web presence. Apparently McDonald's outfitted their "New Wave Nigel" American Idol Happy Meal Toy in a most DEVO-esque manner, and Mothersbaugh et al are not amused. Of particular concern, even more so than fig's day-glow jumpsuit and trippy eye-wear, seems to be the inclusion of the eponymous "DEVO Energy Dome."

How important is said hat? Important enough, apparently, to warrant litigation. Pitchfork Media says:
Devo bassist Gerald Casale-- who designed the trademarked energy dome headgear-- is quoted as saying, "This New Wave Nigel doll that they've created is just a complete Devo rip-off and the red hat is exactly the red hat that I designed, and it's copyrighted and trademarked. We're in the midst of suing them...they didn't ask us anything. Plus, we don't like McDonald's, and we don't like 'American Idol', so we're doubly offended."
Looks like my Happy Meal just got significantly less jovial.

Fot those of you in the audience too young to totally grok the depths of this beef, here's the Casale-directed video for "Whip It," a piece that introduced many a slack-jawed Booji Boy to the band that repped nerds in the age of excess. Note the funky hats.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nerd News in Brief

Do they make a Twitter patch? Maybe some gum or something? I think I’m kind of hooked, and I sometimes wonder if I’ll be able to get off the stuff.

Unlike MySpace and Facebook and similar services, Twitter doesn’t ask much of me as a user. I basically just toss random sentences up at irregular intervals and the train keeps rolling. The people I’m following do the same and, failing the perpetual outages, everyone’s life is enriched by shared minutia.

Is it wrong that I care what @cdharrison had for lunch, what kind of song @triermusic is working on, or what @badddspellah thinks of those feet that keep popping up on BC’s shoreline?

Probably, but it helps pass the time.

  • More of me: A new edition of the GeekDad’s HipTrax podcast, co-hosted by little ol’ me, is currently available. This episode features music from my man Random, new friend Mindscape Music, and Wizard Rock chanteuse The Butterbeer Experience, who I believed I referred to as “adorable.” That… um… that probably crosses some sort of line.
  • Tag Team, back again: For those of you not keeping proper tabs on your RSS feeds, know that Letters vs. Numbers, your favorite rapper’s podcaster’s favorite rapper podcast, is back! After a lengthy delay, episode 6 went up Monday and, in addition to having an almost alarming amount of references to me, it features an amazing cover of JoCo’s “Still Alive” and that hot new MPFM joint the kids are so crazy about!
  • I always forget the “h.”: Also from our Game Music 4 All friends, specifically Jephso, comes an interview with UK chiptune artist Pixelh8. It touches on Pix’s influences, the role of nostalgia in micromusic, and airport security hassles. Which, now that I think about it, has got to be a recurring problem for traveling chiptuners.
  • Warp Zones Are For Pansies: I probably shouldn’t even be discussing this here, as I’m planning a more detailed post concerning the release next week, but let me just say that GM4A’s new compilation Welcome to World 2 is fuckin’ amazing! Ant favored me with a pre-release copy last week, and it’s what I would term “required listening.” Again, I’ll save my full impressions (as well as pricing and release information) for a later date, but it’s a phenomenal collection of some of your favorite VGM, chiptune, and nerdcore acts.
  • “I’m a scientist.”: Earlier this month, hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash released his memoirs, The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats. In a recent Newsweek article about the book, Flash discusses his love of technology, his mechanical mindset, and his ceaseless obsession with collecting records, giving credence to the view that hip-hop is built on the backs of the geeky.
  • This above all: Crank Them 3’s!: Also on the subject of hip-hop and book smarts comes these two links from Church. The first concerns a Forbe’s article about CD/educational aid Smart Shorties, and the second a similar product: Flocabulary’s Shakespeare is Hip-Hop, which should be pretty self-explanatory.
  • Keys, like Alicia: Shael Riley has procured the necessary drum, bass, and guitar support he was looking for to again start gigging around his native New York, but he still needs a keyboardist. Are you a keyboardist? Do you live in one of the famed Boroughs? The give Shael a holler.
  • Happy Bandiversary!: Fervent congratulations go out to Wizard Rock pioneers Harry and the Potters. This week Paul and Joe celebrate the 6th anniversary of the founding of the band. Please join me in wishing continued success to the brothers DeGeorge.
  • Enthusiasm Levels Rising: Speaking of the Potters, today marks the first day of this summer’s Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo. For more information on this groundbreaking tour (featuring three amazing groups: Harry and the Potters, Uncle Monsterface, and Math the Band) see the official Web site. And for a sneak peak behind the veil, check out my recent post over at GeekDad.
  • Haven’t I made this pun before?: In other Wizard Rock news, The Harry Potter Alliance has launched a new project simply entitled WRock the Vote. The goal is to have WRtV volunteers present at every Wizard Rock show of the season to help of-age attendees register to vote. If you’re going to be in attendance at any of these events, why not volunteer yourself?
  • Oh, the humanity!: For those of you planning a WRock-free summer, may I suggest you attend a nice convention? There are, of course, several of these events that should be avoided at all costs, as my pal Matt was nice enough to point out. Hey, leave ROFLcon alone!
  • Bits and pieces: Over the weekend, a new video by my pal Church hit Boing Boing. I submitted it thinking it would be cast aside like so much chaff, but Cory saw wheat. Delicious, nutritious wheat. Since the piece centers on DRM, a geeky topic relevant to many of us, and it also includes that lovable Larry the Cylon, I thought I’d end on it. Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 47: Even the Losers

Ah, the lovable loser: a nerd archetype all its own!

Seriously, though, I sort of worry about saying an episode is “loser-themed.” I mean, will my (often unwitting) contributors not find that a little insulting?

I hope not.

In truth, I think this is one of my favorite episodes of the podcast thus far. Sure, the levels of my voiceovers are kinda shit – I tried a new mic setup that merely seemed to highlight my late-spring allergy voice – but, musically-speaking, I think it’s top notch. Because of the musical selections presented, the whole ep. seems to have this air of triumph, despite my constant references to failure.

I really dig it, and I hope you dig it too.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 47: Even the Losers [hosting provided by Antisocial] Size: 46.6 MB Running Time: 50:56

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
These lads? They’re winners!

Track 1: Brother Machine – “Every Day of the Week
I’m not sure of Brother Machine’s nerdity, but he does know Glenn. I reckon that makes him a geek by association.

Z’s 1st interlude: “Insignificant, undesirable, or just plain sub-par.”
Which is, coincidentally, the name of my autobiography.

Track 2: The Illuminoids – “Lugosi's Mongoloid Loser (Beck vs. Devo vs. Bauhaus)”
I copped this from the Mashup Town 2007 best-of. I’ve been waiting half a year to use it!

Track 3: Totally Radd!! – “The Bobby Song”
Was there a lot more wang in this show than usual? It seems a little wang-y.

Track 4: Southside – “Quite Yer Job”
The fact that Southside included references to the company picnic as well as pilfered paper “from every department” pretty much means this track is made of win.

Track 5: Uncle Monsterface – “Kill Your Boyfriend!”
As I mentioned before, this might be my new favorite Uncle Monsterface track.

Track 6: The Aquabats – “Pizza Day”
Li’l X. loves Yo Gabba Gabba!, and because of this I find myself listening to a lot more Aquabats of late.

Track 7: Lauren Fairweather – “Engines Make Me Hot”
I like that some WRockers are going out their way to write non-Potter-related material. I love that Lauren chose to write about Firefly!

Z’s 2nd interlude: “The story of a broken-hearted and broken-down (Mister) Marty Allen.”
I have in my possession the demo for “Kill Your Boyfriend.” Sure, it sounds a lot like the final studio version, but it’s one of those cool exclusive perks that make being a nerdy music blogger so oddly rewarding.

Track 8: Leigh3 – “GWP”
“I got my guitar and a bottle o’ wine and a porno magazine!”

Track 9: Computerization – “Fukuwinicu
Computerization’s self-titled album is now available for free MP3 download. What, you didn’t know that?

Track 10: mc chris – “fallyn” / Angus dialog
I’m really enjoying mc chris is dead a lot more than I did initially. The backings are sort of, well, I think mCRT described them as J-pop. Still, while the first few songs didn’t grab me, I think the second half of the disc is pretty damn good.

Track 11: The Whomping Willows – “Wizard Rock Heartthrob”
I finally broke down and bought Whompy’s Rock N’ Roll Redux. It’s, like, 6 bucks and comes highly recommended.

Track 12: The Butterbeer Experience – “Basically the Man”
Lena of The Butterbeer Experience has probably my favorite voice in WRock. She’s also currently taking pre-order for her new disc Accio Hot Guy.

Z’s final interlude: “You get to a bad place in your life and it’s easier just to dig in deeper than to try and climb out.”
When I try to come off profound I very often just end up sounding like a hick. I can’t imagine that surprises anyone but me.

Track 13: The Streets – “Empty Cans”
An odd aside: what is it with you Brits and your Reebok Classics? Seriously.

It looks like I might actually be able to crank out another podcast next week before I leave for Nerdapalooza. It’s rare that I find myself ahead of schedule, but stranger things have happened.

Church has suggested the theme of earworms for the next episode, and I quite like that idea. I plan to run with it. Run like the wind!

If you’ve got any suggestions for songs or topics, or if you just wanna share your thoughts on this episode, give me a shout. I’d love to hear ‘em.

I wish my brother George was here.

Hey, folks.

I’ve got a new edition of the Radio Free Hipster podcast that I’m just putting some final touches on right now. It should be up this afternoon, but first I wanted to commiserate the passing of comic luminary George Carlin.

As my friend Matt is often quick to point out, our contemporary flavor of nerd culture – our modern nerd revolution, if you will - is intrinsically linked to the classic counterculture of the 60’s and 70’s. Carlin’s unique brand of clever, anti-establishment humor was very much a part of that movement. It was unafraid to challenge norms. It was far more concerned with being smart and accurate, with being thought-provoking, than with being accepted.

And that’s nerdcore.