Friday, June 25, 2010

Rolling a Better You

There is something inherently odd about the nerd psyche that compels us to forsake our mortal shells. Whether it be through engrossing ourselves in reading or vegging out playing an MMO, we geeks often neglect pesky annoyances like, you know, exercise and proper diet.

Sure, there are many in this brave new generation of dorks who manage to balance both their D&D campaign and a healthy lifestyle, but I ain't one of 'em. Instead, I find that I must trick myself into being a healthier person.

Earlier this year I embarked on my own Pokewalker Fitness Challenge, leveraging the allure of videogames to help me stay active. Now, long after the conclusion of the contest proper, I still find myself slapping my Pichu-strapped pedometer on each morning. I have integrated a learned behavior (calculating my walking) into my daily routine that positively impacts my overall wellbeing. Sure, some days I only log a measly 5000 steps, but it's a tangible thing that I can wrap my head around.

Likewise, my boy MadHatter recently launched his own nerd-centered fitness game over at Scrub Club called Gain HP. It's an innovative system that relies on allusions to classic RPGs to keep participants, like me, focused on the task at hand.

Players gain experience points for pounds lost, structured exercises classes attended, doctor visits and monitoring real-life stats like blood pressure. This doesn't sound particularly glamorous, but when you replace the words "exercise" with "fighting" and "diet" with "foraging," you unlock an undeniable level of nerd appeal. There's even a saving throw system, inspired by MC Frontalot's stop-smoking plan, for those who can't kick the junk food cold turkey.

Weekly weigh-ins, which are relayed to Hatter himself, allow for regular point-tallying and leveling-up, with a leaderboard provided to showcase the top ten. Thus far in my first week of play I've managed to do, well, okay. I've worked in the requisite 45 minutes of daily exercise for my character class, Monk, and have done a decent job of cutting out the booze and junk food. (Aside from one morning where all we had to eat for breakfast were Pop-Tarts! #nutritionfail) But for me, at least, the important thing is that I'm putting forth the effort, and that I'm doing it with friends.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna take another lap around the building. This Sloth Demon ain't gonna slay itself!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nerd News in Brief

Earlier this month, Dr. Demento's weekly syndicated radio show went off the air for good. Since 1974, the good Dr. has been sharing not only parody and comedy music, but strange and nerdy recordings of all stripes with the world at large. Sadly, with the recent attempts at streamlining the failing industry, this material was deemed an ill fit for the modern radio audience.

I am of two minds regarding this. First, I find it unfortunate that a broadcasting luminary was cut loose for no better reason than the bottom line. But on the other hand, who the fuck listens to terrestrial radio anymore? It's a sinking ship, and Demento is likely much better off proceeding in the current manner, as an internet-only broadcaster.

This means you can still get your Dr. Demento fix via his web site, unfettered by the whims of mundane America.
  • Pac-Man Fever: On the continued subject of nerd history, my pal Brux passed on word of some newly revealed sketches of Toru Iwatani's original Pac-Man design. Look on and be amazed.
  • Fully Functional: Speaking of Demento, and thus by extension Weird Al, here is "White & Nerdy." Star Trek style.
  • Shat My Dad Says: Also in the Trek vein, Church points out that William Shatner will be directing a new documentary. About himself. I don't even have a joke for this one.
  • Zombies Beware: Also submitted without commentary: the axe holster.
  • Run for the Hills: Which may or may not play into the new Zombie Fit fitness program. Sadly, it includes parkour. So my ass is out.
  • Lusty Lab Coats: Church also directs us toward an interesting item for skeptical nerds. A group of science-minded UK geeks are putting together a (sanitized) pinup calendar to raise money to support libel reform. Anyone familiar with Simon Singh's recent run-in with the British Chiropractic Association surely understands the rationale behind this cause.
  • The Many Moods of Koji Kondo: NeatoRama recently put together an astounding collection of covers of the classic Legend of Zelda theme. Our friends I Fight Dragons made the cut, but nothing can hold a candle to the LoZ wedding march!
  • King of Kings: Likewise, Topless Robot kicked off the month of June with a list of the "16 Most Gloriously Nerdy Musical Acts." Among those listed were Gwar, DEVO, Stovokor and MC Frontalot.
  • The Doctor is In: Earlier this month, Toronto's The Star ran this piece on geek chic and the buying power of the nerd community. Perhaps most importantly, it includes knowledge dropped by my longtime home-skillet, Geek Studies' Dr. Jason Tocci.
  • Earth Girls are Easy: And just when you thought I'd gone and presented some genuinely compelling ideas on the current chic de geek, here's a piece from Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy about the god-awful Nerd Girls reality show. I weep for the future of television.
  • Step 1 – Annoy the Shit Out of Z.: To balance out the two, here's an explanation of the trend from How Stuff Works. The more you know!
  • For the Venn: And to return to another well-worn subject, Antisoc drew my attention to this recent xkcd. I believe it squashes the nerd vs. geek argument once and for all.
  • I Summon E. Coli!: I also have to give it up to Church for hipping me to Healing Blade, a fantasy card game rooted in real-world infectious diseases/therapeutics by the fine folks at Nerdcore Learning. Never let it be said that Magic the Gathering can't be out-geeked!
  • Charge of the (Dr.) Light Brigade: While the summer nerd music event on everyone's lips is surely Nerdapalooza, be aware that purveyors of the world's only traveling Mega Man rock opera, The Protomen, will also be on tour during the month of July. Look for them with special guests Super 8 Bit Brothers and The Adventures of Duane and Brando throughout the southern US.
  • Your Yacht Got Capsizeded: In other new music news, Frontalot has just unveiled the video for his new single "First World Problem" over at the SPIN Magazine web site. It's animated, but not in the same manner as the performer's stage presence.
  • The Dogg That Don't Bite: Not to be outdone, decidedly un-nerdcore rapper Snoop Doog has just released a video for his track "Oh Sookie." It's a musical tribute to True Blood's Sookie Stackhouse. Yeah, I'm as confused by this development as you are.
  • Heads Up, Glasses On: Also making waves with a new vid is I Fight Dragons. Their bowling alley anthem "Heads Up, Hearts Down" has gotten the Avatar treatment. Meaning, of course, that now it's overly long and wholly derivative. Wait, no; I mean now it's in 3D!
  • Trying to Unlock Your Heart: But in-amongst all these fine new specimens of video entertainment, the one that's taking us out this time around is from none other than Seattle comic book rockers Kirby Krackle. It's an animated interpretation of the song "Up, Up, Down, Down" from their debut album. It's all about nerd love, courtship and cannibalism.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cover Me

It's rare that I get to use the name of a Bruce Springsteen song as the title of a post. I mean, I had one one time that I was gonna call "Tunnel Of Love," but that shit was just too crude.

At any rate, I am coming to you this morning to remind you that we are less than a month away from Nerdpalooza 2010. Are you excited? I am excited!

Last year Hex Warrior and I hatched a plan to introduce a new, albeit understated, element to the festival. We strongly suggested that each participating artist include a cover song in his/her set. Why? Because covers are awesome.

While there was far less than 100% participation – which is totally cool as this is a voluntary program – a number of exciting cover songs did make their way into the weekend's performances. Not the least of which was Krondor Krew's amazing (and wholly appropriate) take on Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap" from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze soundtrack.

This year, we're hoping that the performers will continue in this proud tradition, and that fans will encourage them to participate. Nerdapalooza is all about having fun with the other members of our tribe, and this is yet another way to keep things light, informal and amusing.

And speaking of this year's 'Palooza, unlike last year it looks as if I actually will be in attendance. That being said, I am in a bit of a money crunch at present, so if anyone would be willing to donate a few bucks to help me cover gas to get to Orlando and back, I would be most appreciative.

"Help me cover gas."

Well I'll be damned; that title is more appropriate than I thought!:D