Friday, May 29, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

I am not particularly adept at keeping secrets. Still, I've been working on a trio of albums on the sly for months now, so I reckon that shows that I can abstain from spilling beans to some extent.

Interestingly enough, one of these projects should be ready for release next week, and I really think you'll like it. A second should (hopefully) be announced before Nerdapalooza, with the third staying under wraps until early autumn. For those who are wondering: yes, it is a bad idea to juggle multiple projects like this.

But what can I say? I simply follow where the spirit leads me. Currently it is leading me toward another edition of Nerd News in Brief. Come with us, won't you?
  • Challenge Accepted: At long last, Here Comes a New Challenger II Turbo is available for free download and physical album pre-order. It's two-discs of unadulterated awesome that you simply must own. So check that shit out, yo!
  • Homeless Hermaphrodite: Speaking of new releases, mcRT has just dropped his third, an EP entitled Karma's a Bitch. In typical Rob Tobias-style, it's a unique blend of anger, humor and profanity. Four out of Five giraffe's are delightfully offended.
  • Late to the Party: And well after the appropriate day – May 4th, for those keeping score at home – I'll pass on this great piece from Fong Songs about Star Wars cover tunes. A tip of the hat goes to Church for the link.
  • How Bazaar: Congratulations to Jonathan Coulton and I Fight Dragons for being invited to take part in the sixtyone's new music-selling service the sixtyone bazaar. It allows you to buy albums directly from artists in a manner most beneficial. Keep an eye on this development.
  • So Long, Black Box: It was recently revealed that our own Schaffer the Darklord has left the comfortable confines of life as a solo artist in favor of exploring some full band mayhem. Be there when Schaffer and the Darklords make their live debut on Saturday, June 13th at Arlene's Grocery in good ol' NYC. Or there'll be hell to pay!
  • The Healing Power of Music: Australians have received a lot of press lately about their predilection for alternative medical treatments as opposed to, y'know, real science, but I found this blog entry about a non-medical treatment for stomachaches fairly plausible. Let MC Lars heal you of our ills!
  • Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves: Are you a geeky girl? Are you interested in networking with other likeminded ladies? If you answered yes to both these questions, check out the Geek Girls Network. It's a contribution-driven blog that promotes and encourages nerd culture with a distinctly feminine slant.
  • Role Models: And if you're, perhaps, looking for a topic on which to write for a potential Geek Girls Network post, I humbly suggest this. WTF Marvel?! Is that lame-ass shit really the best you could come up with?
  • Simon Sez: One of my favorite nerdy ladies is the delightful Little Miss Gamer. Coincidentally, she's recently posted a new episode of her Web show in which she waxes nostalgic about the Simon. It also features an appearance by Canadian comedian/rap artist Tom Green. Don't believe me? See for yourself.
  • Nerd Life: In case you missed it earlier this month, the episode of PRI's To the Best of Our Knowledge centered on nerd culture is finally available in podcast form. It includes, among other things, a nice segment about Nerdcore For Life, so give it a listen.
  • Point, Counterpoint: Speaking of geek culture, Church also hipped me to this LA Times piece on Utah's veritable nerd haven Neumont University. Interestingly enough, there's been some pretty strong backlash from the school itself, as outlined here. I guess the fact that you can be both a geek and a fairly sociable individual has yet to occur to either side.
  • Stage 2: Closing out this week is another fine video from Superpowerless. The track is called "Princess," and it features chiptunes, rock guitar, crazy dancing and neon colors. And also handsome sweaters. Oh those dapper Brits!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Radio Free Hipster Ep. 67: The That's Entertainment Mixtape

For the benefit of those of you out there who are new listeners, and my recent feed stats indicate that there are at least a couple of you, I'll explain the original concept behind my irregular mixtape episodes. Part of it is rooted in the kinds of concept mixes my friends and I used to put together on ratty old cassettes back in high school. Likewise, part of it is also centered on the idea of connecting the songs in a given podcast without the implementation of my own hand-fisted narration.

I typically reserve these kinds of things for special occasions – PAX, the death of an iconic figure in nerd culture or the like – but this one is special because it was a request. (And, as you know, I have trouble denying requests.)

Recently my pal Matt put together a great mix of his own, and he literally challenged me to do another one, specifically to make a mix designed to fit on a standard 60 minute cassette. Meaning, of course, approximately 30 minutes of programming on each "side" with a pause in the middle for the changeover. The following podcast is what I came up with.

It's actually composed chiefly of segments from other half-finished mixes I've assembled for my own enjoyment in recent months, but that never quite panned out on their own. In retrospect , I believe that these individual components never gelled because I was being far too narrow with regard to their subject matter. Therefore this edition ended up taking on a nebulous pop culture concept that floats from reinventions of radio standards to television dialog and tributes to meditations on film and videogames to Internet memes without too much in the way of rhyme or reason.

But despite that, I think it came together pretty well. I hope you agree.

Download Radio Free Hipster Ep. 67: The That's Entertainment Mixtape [hosting provided by Antisoc] Size: 50.9 MB Running Time: 55:40

Show Notes:

Intro: Baddd Spellah – “Radio Free Hipster Theme (feat. Beefy)”
Cutting up the theme song so as to indicate that something is wrong with your regular experience is a touchstone of the RFH mixtape.

Background Music:
You may recognize this as the ambient theremin piece used in the G1 Transformers cartoon and, if memory serves, the Hitchhiker's Guide radio plays.

Track 1: Lost dialog / Will Ferrell –"Afternoon Delight"
"This song is about daytime love making."

Track 2: Lost dialog / Previously on Lost – "Hang In There - S05-E07"
Been meaning to play some PoL for a while. This seemed like a golden opportunity.

Track 3: Transformers dialog / Kyle Gabler – "The Goo Filled Hills"
From the World of Goo soundtrack.

Track 4: Metaforce – "Subliminal (style wars pt. 1)"
Metaforce always makes for a good mixtape.

Track 5: Epic-1 – Back Then (feat. The Spork)
This nostalgic joint is from Epic's recent mixtape. Pick it up.

Track 6: Tanner4105 01 – "yatexas- he actually has 4 offices"
I considered cutting this track down for a better transition, but I ended up playing it in its entirety.

Track 7: Pokemon dialog / Studged – "Bill Cosby Gangsta Rap"
Not particularly "gangsta," but a fun piece.

Track 8: Team Genius – "Illegal Donkey Kong Remix"
"Hit a mu'fuckin' bumblebee over the head."

Track 9: Xoc – "Goonies 2: Password" / "Goonies 2: Good Enough"
Even though he doesn't respond to my MySpace messages, Xoc is still a goddamn genius.

Track 10: Fensler film dialog / Party Ben – "Live Your Life Punk"
"Who wants a body massage" clip included for no valid reason whatsoever.

Track 11: Thundercats outtakes / Math the Band – "You Shook Me all Night Long"

Track 12: Lost dialog / DJ Otter – "Always Needing to Bush Your Shoulders Off"
After a brief pause we resume the show with a Jay-Z vs. The Kooks mash-up.

Track 13: Superpowerless – "Dammit" / Ferris Bueller's Day Off dialog / Scared Of Dinosaurs – "Crank That Soulja Boy"
A Oliver HIndle two-for, if you will.

Track 14: K.K. Slider – "K.K. Ska"
I can't be the only Animal Crossing fan up in this piece.

Track 15: Onion Radio News – "President Obama Vetoes Mutant Registration Act"
I've actually been waiting on this one since January.

Track 16: Futuristic Sex Robotz – "If I Ruled the World"
I still have no idea what the hell this song is about. Although I reckon we can infer from the lyrics that FSR support gay marriage and hacking the Gibson, but hold a palpable disdain for furries.

Track 17: Jonathan Coulton - "Baby Got Back"
Mix-a-Lot's size-positive sex jam sounds so much sweeter when JoCo sings it.

Track 18: MadHatter And Shelshocker – "Unstoppable"
From 8Bit Bullshit, a fine album that all should own.

Track 19: Gauntlet clips / Emotron – "Bigger than JC"
Another unfathomable track. I think it's about the classical institution of marriage versus modern sexual politics, but it might just be about Britney Spears having an STD. It's important to note that Emotron starts his set with this song, and ends it by catching his member on fire.

Track 20: Golden Girls dialog / Animal Crossing Soundtrack – "Museum Insect Display Room" / The Four Eyes – "Thank You For Being a Friend"
There's nothing I can say to soften the blow of ending this edition with the Golden Girls "condoms" bit. My apologies.

And thus ends my third mixtape episode. I imagine some will respond positively to its arbitrary nature and some will not, but such is the nature of the beast.

When I first started making Radio Free Hipster, I described it as part pirate radio and part mixtape for a friend. These exercises, as infrequent as they are, really help keep me rooted in the aesthetic of the latter. Plus, they give you a break from my infernal drawl.

And I think we can all agree that this is a good thing.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Towel Day is an interesting observance in the greater geek tradition. It is about looking back at the life and work of a cherished author and fallen hero, yet it is about looking forward. For what is science fiction if not a hopeful (if sometimes frightening) glimpse into our collective future? But mostly I think it is about being prepared.

In that regard, the towel can be said to symbolize our nerdy predilection for technological improvisation, for making do with what we have in the true spirit of our hacker brethren. But such means naught without at least some level of personal vigilance. Sure, a towel can keep you warm, but you must first realize you're on the icy moon of Jaglan Beta. It can serve as a beach blanket, but only if you recognize the sands of Santraginus V. It can save even you from making fatal eye contact with the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, but only if you note the creature's initial approach.

Therefore it can also be said that the towel also symbolizes the dork's need to know his environment and to stay aware of notable happenings. Thus it seems almost poetic that this year's Towel Day falls on the heels of a pair of unique musical announcements.

Our first bit of news comes complete with a heaping helping of congratulations to all the winners of the 2009 Wizard Rock People's Choice Awards! This year saw a ton of multiple award-winning acts including The Whomping Willows (who received 3 awards), Riddle™ and The Moaning Myrtles (who each won 4) and Lifetime Achievement Award winners The Remus Lupins (who won 5). But this year's big winner was clearly the Ministry of Magic. Garnering the nod in no less than 9 categories, including best full-length and best male vocalist, MoM were truly the darlings of the scene. Hit up the 'Pedia for the full results.

This weekend also saw the resurrection of the official Nerdapalooza site at In addition to a friendly intro blog post from Hex himself, you can also find a helpful F.A.Q. and a full list of the thus-confirmed performers. The big news is that the event's second headliner has been announced, and it's none other than Nashville's traveling Mega Man rock opera The Protomen! Other newly-attached acts include related VG rockers The Megas, my good friends Uncle Monsterface, my bald-headed-brother-from-another-mother Shael Riley, chip wizard Jay Tholen, master filker The Great Luke Ski and musical comedy up-and-comer Odd Austin. It was also reveled that the event will be hosted by my comrades-in-arms MisterB and Anthony, so the promise of their delightful banter alone should be more than enough to warrant a ticket purchase.

And now you are in the all-important know. Aren't you quite the hoopy frood, then?