Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Culture Vultures

Because of its unfortunate secondary placement in this blog's mantra of "nerd music and culture," I feel I sometimes neglect the all-important non-musical elements of nerd life. I spend lots of time talking about the significance of nerdy music and where you can find it, and I often allude to nerd culture as this grand, nebulous concept, but I rarely pin it down. I seldom define its dimensions. I almost never make it concrete.

Today I hope to break this trend.

You see, just as the music that I feature springs forth from hundreds of talented and undeniably geeky individuals, my love of nerd culture is similarly nourished by others. Blogs are, by their very nature, cannibalistic; so, in the same way that MC Frontalot and Uncle Monsterface help feed my need for musical geekery, a cavalcade of other bloggers slake my thirst for true nerd culture.

You likely already have a stable of the standard geeky cultural destinations in your aggregator of choice – your io9s and your Topless Robots – but there are other, subtler options.

So where do I go when I want to read nerdy things written by nerdy people? Let me tell you:


The mainstream does not, as a rule, understand the nerd culture phenomenon. They can wax poetic about how Big Bang Theory represents a cultural paradigm shift where nerds can be legitimate protagonists, and they can drone on and on about the dreaded "geek chic," but they just can't seem to grok what we're really about. To them we are at best an unfathomable mystery and at worst another momentary oddity. The caveat to this statement is TIME magazine. More specifically, it's TIME's Lev Grossman. He's sort of our inside (outside?) guy, the one cat on the more conventional journalistic tip that speaks with our voice.

I originally began following Lev through his work at TIME's NerdWorld blog, a project that recently transformed into the newly unveiled TechLand. This new blog shares all the principle earmarks of NerdWorld, focusing on things like gaming, gadgets, comics and TV – all of which are core elements of nerd culture.

Lev manages to avoid the principle pratfall of professional blogging by walking that narrow line between analytical exploration and personal narrative, and along the way manages to craft posts that are both insightful and genuinely entertaining. Plus he and I share joint blog comment custody of a certain Church H. Tucker. So there's an additional bond.

The Life and Times of Jarvis Slacks

I have long held the opinion that a proper nerd can geek out about practically anything, and Jarvis Slacks is proof positive of this postulation. Whether he's sharing his impressions of Borderlands, trying to unravel the complex web of teen angst and poor decision-making that led to the popularity of Jncos or putting those snooty-ass cavemen in their place, he always comes across like a nerd's nerd: intelligent, sardonic and literate as fuck.

Jarvis is an educator by trade, and some of his best stuff comes from that well-worn but still totally serviceable "exasperated teacher "pastiche. (Holler at his Twitter for more info.) Still, for my money there's no one I'd rather see go on a political tear than Jarvis. His takes on subjects like Fox News and why you shouldn't trust the police are like perfectly polished nuggets of geeky genius.

If you're a fan of Halo, Battlestar Galactica or leftist politics, Jarvis is your man.

Wolf Gnards

Wolf Gnards is a blog for people who take their ridiculous pop culture minutiae seriously.

Wait; skip that. Wolf Gnards is the blog for people who take their ridiculous pop culture minutiae seriously.

For the uninitiated, I would describe this blog as a solid bitch slap to modern entertainment media. While most rags (both dead tree and digital) linger over John and Kate or can't seem to get enough of golf pros and their traffic accidents, Wolf Gnards is calculating how long Bill Murray spent in Groundhog Day's temporal loop and the proper bangs-to-face ratio for aspiring indie girls.

To break it down Wolf Gnards style, the blog is essentially snarky pop culture + math. And that shit always = nerd.

Plus, can you really go wrong with a blog that's name is a Monster Squad reference?


antisoc said...

I always figured Phil Connors mastered just enough songs on piano to play in the band. I think it could be mastered in less time than 8 years. Heck, I've been playing keyboard off and on for about 12 years, but the only reason I haven't become good is because I didn't put in the required practice time. If he put in a good 2-4 hours practice per day, he could accomplish becoming a piano master in less than a year. Heck, if he picked it up quick, he could get there in a month or 2.

Ok, I definitely will have to bookmark that blog. :)

J.Goodwin said...

The post title obligates me to mention Dear Leader's "The Good Times are Killing Me." It's not overly geeky and it's not hip-hop, but it's a very good album.

Z. said...

The weirdest thing about the Groundhog Day math, Soc, was Harold Ramis's response. While I thought Wolf Gnard's calculations hit things pretty close, Ramis says the loop lasted 30-40 years!

Thanks for the tip, J. I'll look into that. :)

Matt said...

Now if Techland can join this end of the decade and fix their RSS feed to show full entries instead of that partial crap, I might actually read it more often.

Z. said...

You have to remember, Matt, that big fish like TIME are still desperately afraid of missing that direct traffic. I think it's still a while yet before they unclinch.

eye-shuh said...

Haha, I HATE that. People still have to click the link to post a comment anyway, so really it just lends to better reporting (i.e. more interesting stories get commented/hits) if you allow full feeds.

Someday the internet with it's tubes and tube collectors will reign supreme!

In other news, thanks for the links! I LOVE discovering new and interesting blogs! I'm going to click through these right now and steal feeds to the ones I enjoy. :)

Z. said...

Glad to do it, Eye-shuh. I recently realized that, aside from places like free-geek and Geek Studies, I seldom name-drop other great sources of non-musical nerdiness.

killsaly said...

I almost posted something bad about one of those blogs, but decided to hold my tongue.

Como Vai Z?

Whens the next HipsterPlease! comp?

Z. said...

Ah, you know you can speak freely here, KS! And as for the next HP comp, there are actually 3 in various stages of development. One is being mastered, one is being assembled and one is still getting it's artist roster finalized. :D

Anonymous said...

Man, that was way more love than I deserved today. And here I was thinking that I couldn't geek out anymore today. What's that? I smell a post about the New Star Trek and the influence of instant fame? YOU! You are my inspiration, Hipster!

Anonymous said...

Man, that was way more love than I deserved today. And here I was thinking that I couldn't geek out anymore today. What's that? I smell a post about the New Star Trek and the influence of instant fame? YOU! You are my inspiration, Hipster!

J.Goodwin said...

Nice enough to say it twice, hooray! :)

If you want to geek out hardcore on audio, then you should check out

I went crazy a few weeks ago just listening to episodes of "Vincent Price as ... The Saint." Their radio show section is amazing. Then you've got the live music area where you have a massive and growing selection of concert boots to select from. Nearly two million books, over 70 thousand concerts, it's overload on a massive scale.

If you need a nerdy hip-hop reason to go there, check out the 21 live shows by 2 Skinee Js. Nerdy non hip-hop: Robyn Hitchcock. Hey, you might even find dozens of shows by the band I mentioned previously (hint-hint).

Everyone on the internet should be more aware of the archive.

killsaly said...

Ill just leave it at the fact that I am a right leaning Libertarian. Political discussion via a comment section about blogs on a nerd music blog isnt really my thing. I like to have talks like that face to face. I also dont like to call ones views wrong, which is why i decided on my previous reply to not comment on specific items from the blogs. It isnt ever constructive. I have plenty of good political discussions every day, but in person where ideas can be shared easier. I date a pretty left/liberal, but we dont argue or debate, we always discuss items and usually come to a good middle of the road consensus. Its something I have had to change, because noone ever knows everything, you can always learn from people with opposing views.