Episode 37 – Dead Zombies Walking (Halloween part 2)

October 30, 2009

Far and away the search-term that lands the most people at Nerd Hurdles is “zombies.” It’s well into the hundreds and the next highest non-zombie related search-term is “borg queen” at 22. And I’d argue the Borg are just space zombies so “data star trek” at a count of 14 is the real runner-up. Since until this latest episode we’d only talked about zombies once (episode 21), this is a clear indication the public has gone rabid for zombies. And it’s not just googling nerds who have a hunger for the dead flesh, last weekend we walked amongst hundreds of punk, goth and hipster wannabe ghouls at the Toronto Zombie Walk 2009.

But why have the undead sprung to life? Something about shuffling brains-hungry corpses clearly resonates with the living population at a near universal level. I believe for the most part it’s due to the following three points: Read the rest of this entry »

Canzine ’09

October 28, 2009


Mandi and Jakob will be manning the Ampersand Publishing table at Canzine 2009. They’ll be selling Ampersand mini-books and handing out Nerd Hurdles stuff. If you’re in the Toronto area, drop by and say hello!

Episode 36 – The Legend of Sleepy Hurdles (Halloween part 1)

October 23, 2009
Mandi and co. as the cast of Empire Records.

Mandi (left) and friends as the cast of Empire Records.

Halloween. It used to be my favourite holiday. It very well might still be. Though Thanksgiving is gaining ground. I mostly enjoy how Thanksgiving doesn’t take over the world for the month preceding it and yet there is still a turkey. Every year Halloween seems to come closer to the unholy orgy of excess that is Christmas. This creates hurdles.

Or perhaps I’m just getting older, turning into a Charles Schultz-esque curmudgeon and bemoaning the commercialization of childhood memories. I should just find the most sincere pumpkin patch and spend the week there, hiding from ornate window displays of cheaply produced, over-priced decorations and costumes.

Perhaps what gets me, like everything in our convenience-driven society, is the effort has been taken out of Halloween. Costumes don’t have to be creatively cobbled together from thrift-store finds and lawn displays are purchased wholesale instead of hammered together in the garage. Last night I came home to a plastic graveyard on my neighbor’s lawn—the same cheesy headstones I’d passed on the lawns of at least four houses on my street.

Jakob as The Spirit of Christmas (2003)

Jakob as “The Spirit of Christmas” (2003)

But turning into a grumpy old man aside, what’s always been my biggest Halloween hurdle as an adult is the costumes. I loathe wearing something ridiculous and uncomfortable in public.

And I’ve made myself of-so-uncomfortable in public on Halloween. For several years I always put on Beetlejuice grease-paint make-up and wore a black suit. I suppose was some kind of Reservoir Dogs ghoul. It always seemed like a good idea at the time—all I had to do was pick up a pack of make-up at the dollar store—but by an hour into the party (or shift at the videostore) it was the most uncomfortable torture you can imagine. By the end of the night there’d be claw-marks all over my face from where I was unconsciously scratching it like a cat with an abscess. Why did I do it every year? Clearly I was extremely dim in my younger years.

Jakob’s “Inner Monster” comes out (2005)

Not content to merely make myself uncomfortable, I began to design costumes to make everyone at the party uncomfortable.

It’s easier than you think. Start with a touch of drag, add a hint of passive-agression, top with a dash of TMI and blend into a hideous concoction. Since the year I went as My Inner Monster, I haven’t tried to take things to the next level.

The last time I dressed up it was as Robocoon, a character I played on a community radioshow. Robocoon didn’t make anyone uncomfortable, but a headpiece like that (see below) makes for awkward conversation. There’s only so many places in a crowded kitchen you can stand when your head is two feet wider than you’re used to.

In this episode we talk about the above plus, what the night is really about… candy, candy, candy! Next week we’re going to bring you a special report from Toronto’s 2009 Zombie Walk and discuss scary movies and monsters.

Jakob’s Robocoon costume from 2006:

Extra: Star Trek pumpkin stencils.
Bonus Extra: Gallery of nerdy jack-o-lanterns

Down for the count

October 20, 2009

Due to an increased interest in our back catalogue since joining Simply Syndicated, we’ve exceeded our monthly bandwidth allotment on our Podbean feed.

November 1st should see things back and running. We’ll be moving these old episodes over to Simply Syndicated over time as well (ironically that site is also down today doing a server refresh) . Until then, new episodes every friday.

Episode #35 – Star Trek Novels

October 16, 2009

When Mandi likes a thing, she needs more of that thing in whatever form she can get it. Before discovering Star Trek fanfic, it were the official novels. At one point she had the entire set.

I’m a bit different when it comes to my fandoms. I tend to only enjoy the original iteration. With films I often don’t even feel the need to see the sequels. Though, of course,  I eventually do. I just don’t feel the need. For me having that one perfect movie or book is enough.

So I generally don’t wait in baited anticipation for movie adaptations of my favourite books and reading about the Star Wars Expanded Universe never appealed to me (though I did dip my toe into the Thrawn graphic novels).  The same has applied to Star Trek books. I have more than enough Star Trek to watch and re-watch, why would I need, what I assumed were poorly written, novels on top of that?

But with Star Trek there’s a few extra Nerd Hurdles I needed to leap. Yes, the assumption of simplistic, cheesy writing is at the top of the list, but it’s due mostly to some of the worst book cover art outside of Harlequin romances.

Take Masks for instance. Floating heads over a volcano. And not just the usual nicely blended floating heads you might see on a movie poster, but these look like they were torn from another book cover and pasted on as an afterthought. Picard looks okay but what’s with Riker’s expression? He’s looking both drunk and constipated. I suppose that fits with my general feelings about Riker as a character anyway. Not the wall-eyed drunk so much but there’s something stuck up somewhere within him.

Which is one of the reason’s I’ve never jumped on the Star Trek bookmobile. They seem generally Riker intensive. They were also lined up on one of my highschool buddy’s shelves along with his Dragonlance books. Forever the two series have been intertwined in my subconscious. That’s not exactly true. They’ve been intertwined in the forefront of my consciousness, no “sub” about it. I imagine I don’t need to explain Dragonlance books are a hurdle for me on principle.

So what did I discover about Star Trek novels during the course of this rather tangent-intensive episode? You’ll have to listen (link at the top of the post) to find out.

Notes: I have since read up about Oliver Cromwell and the Princes in the Tower on Wikipedia.  So there’s no need to school me on English history. Well, there is a need. But not about those two particular subjects.

~ Jakob


October 14, 2009

It seems that it’s the Podcast Awards nomination season again. That’s at podcastwards.com. A whole dot com devoted to awarding podcasts with awards of podcasting merit. It would be awesome if Nerd Hurdles won an award. It would make an amazing marketing tool. We could put it in our iTunes synopsis. “The award-winning Nerd Hurdles podcast blah blah blah.” Actually, we could do it now. The internet is great like that. We won the Nobel Prize in Podcasting. Google-me-wrong. Show me where it says we did not win the Nobel Prize in Podcasting.

Speaking of iTunes, I just realized our new iTunes feed (the one that says “Simply Syndicated” under it) could use some reviews. If you’ve written a glowing review for us on iTunes for our Ampersand Publishing account, we love you for it. If you want to retain our love, please cut and paste your review (see, we’re making it easy for you) into the new page. We’ll give you a the Nobel Prize in Awesomeness.

Episode 34 – Artsy farts

October 9, 2009

Artsy farts. They ruin it for everyone. Especially performance artists. Nothing turns the general public off the arts more than someone gluing their pubic hair to a Volkswagon and calling “Art” (you gotta know it’s been done). We braved the all night artsy douchebaggery that was Nuit Blanch Toronto 2009 and managed to get enough sleep to talk about it.

And there was a lot of artsbaggery to survive. Nuit Blanche reminds me why I quit art school. Actually, when I quit I was as douchie an artist as the douchebag next to me. My views on art school are there’s only about one semester of theory and technique they can teach you (or not bother teaching you as it turned out with my profs) and then the rest is blood, sweat and practicing on your own. You got it, or you ain’t. It took me years to get back into making art.

This is what the Pixmaven instant art critique generator has this to say about this episode: “It should be added that the reductive quality of the figurative-narrative line-space matrix endangers the devious simplicity of the distinctive formal juxtapositions.”

Good performace art: Shara Rosko’s Glomerate.

Bad performance art:


Episode 33 – Little Green Men

October 4, 2009

So… LGMs. Little green mutherfuckers. We (as in me specifically) found this episode difficult simply because we (me) don’t have anything to say about aliens. Okay. I had lots to say. But it was a struggle that threatened to consume me. I was lucky to make it out alive.

The big news!

October 2, 2009

We’re now on the Simply Syndicated podcast network (simplysyndicated.com)! This is a good thing for us and for you. Well, perhaps a better thing for us than you because you will have to update your subscriptions. We’ll make that as clear and easy as possible once the new iTunes account is vetted. Exciting times.

The new RSS feed is http://www.simplysyndicated.com/shows/nerdhurdles/feed/ and our page on Simply Syndicated can be found HERE where you’ll see Rich has uploaded last week’s episode to kick thing’s off. We plan to release a new episode on that feed, as well as our existing feed, tonight.

What will happen to the Podbean site? We’re going to keep it running as a place to store the first 33 episodes but I’ll probably also throw a little something from Mr. Dapper up there once in a while. Maybe some P-Reviews or, I suspect, Igor might get up to something.

Mandi and I are well chuffed to be on Simply Syndicated (which got me into this whole podcasting thing to begin with) and look forward to a long and glorious partnership! Huzzah!

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