Episode 022: History and Herstory (Special Edition)

June 24, 2009

The premise of this episode was my deep aversion to history. But really, I’m as much a fan of historic tales as the next person. My aversion is actually to pioneer history. Mandi loves her pioneer history, or more specifically, the fur trade. I’ve never been able to muster much interest in that period. And that’s the reason I’m not big on Canadian history as a whole. It’s all  pioneer history. For some reason Australia’s history interests me much more than Canada’s. Perhaps I like history that’s more removed from my own life; tales of exotic, far-off lands. Perhaps it’s simply because Australia produced Nick Cave and Canada produced Chad Kroeger. I suspect this is the subtle cultural difference that causes so many Canadian youths to travel in Australia when they leave school.

What is it I don’t like about pioneer history? I suppose it’s the because everyone seemed to have been in a life and death struggle over stakes that were pitifully small. I don’t get the impression anyone got rich in the fur trade or the gold rush, they just got sick and dead. Maybe I’m just not an adventurer. I don’t wish to go where no one has gone before, I wish to go where people with bulldozers and bridge-making equipment have gone before. In fact I’d rather not go until the plumbers, electricians and people with memory-foam beds have been there. And finally, the people with the vaccines. I’m not going until I know I’m not going to get tetanus.

No, give me Roman or Egyptian history over pioneer history any day. The Romans had plumbing—Sewers at least. Though I do enjoy the streets flowing with shit in Deadwood, I prefer Pharaohs to cowboys.


Episode 021: Zombies (Special Edition)

June 11, 2009

We originally titled episode 21 Yawn of the Dead even though we don’t find zombies boring at all. Especially those 28 Days Later zombies which move really fast. Some people get downright rabid if you call those things zombies. Even though they are zombies. From the standpoint of being a dramatic mechanism that is.

What really makes zombies intriguing and creepy? Is it that they’re reanimated corpses? That they like to chew on people? That you need to destroy their brain to kill them?

Or is it that they’re people who are out of control of their body, unable to reason, their individuality destroyed… and it could happen to you.

That is the key to zombies being terrifying and has kept audiences coming back for more decade after decade. Questions of reanimated corpse vs. viral infection vs. ancient magic seem to me to be mere quibbles. Take away the element of a zombie being someone who is a shell of their former self and audiences wouldn’t find them nearly as haunting.

There is a faction of zombie fans, armed with the Zombie Survival Guide, who will chew your arm off if you claim anything other than the George A. Romero Night of the Living Dead style undead are zombies. There’s a whole checklist they will go through and point by point they will tell you exactly why a person infected with Rage Virus isn’t a zombie. But the Living Dead arent aren’t zombies either—they’re the goddamn living dead. A zombie is only truly found within Vodoun religious practices. And more likely in sensationalized fictional dramatizations of  said practices. You can rightfully claim that people infected with rage virus aren’t the “living dead”, but there’s no reason to not call them “zombies.”

It’s mere semantics of course. To me any time you have people losing their minds, attacking other people and spreading some kind of infection to their victim, it’s a “zombie” movie. I would even consider Invasion of the Body Snatchers a breed of zombie movie. Chew on that.

Tasks: a) Act like the living dead in public (not as part of a zombie walk). b) Act like someone infected with rage virus in public (not as part of a zombie walk). c) Don’t get arrested or tazed.

Links: First zombie movie; Zombie drink recipes.


Episode 020: Season One Bonus Features (Special Edition)

June 4, 2009

Gag reels. Deleted scenes. Alternate takes. People love bonus features on DVDs even if they’re, at best, a bit shit and, at worst, the most boring form of torture ever devised. Only cast members find the bloopers funny and deleted scenes are usually deleted for a reason. This didn’t stop us from compiling a heap of our own gaffs and tangents to celebrate our 20th episode. If I could have figured out how to do an audio commentary track on an audio show, I would have done that too.

Due to the nature of the episode’s theme, the content is all over the place. From Pete Townshend purchasing child porn on the internet because he’s been driven mad from tinnitus (here is the follow-up to that story, thanks to Erwin Blonk for the link) to the politics of black-face to the true meaning of the word “filk” (it’s not pleasant, or… it might be), this is all the bits that we swept off the cutting-room floor. Though it’s not a “floor” so much as a folder named “gag reel” which I’d been saving snippets either too precious to delete or simply too tangential to keep in an already too long episode.

Speaking of which, we’re running a poll on the forums to help us determine how long you want the episodes to be. 45 minutes to an hour seems to be the consensus so far. Which is what we thought, and frankly 45 minutes is what I think we’ll aim for in the future. Episode 20 is an hour and a freaking extra quarter. Well, Kumar talks for 12 minutes alone. It’s all his fault.

Also nominations for the June Nerd of the Month are coming to a close. It’s, er, the 4th already. We might just pick someone ourselves… perhaps not nerd poser Lev Grossman. Perhaps I’ll pick Harold Bloom.


Episode 019: Time Travel (Special Edition)

May 28, 2009

I’ve never cared much for time travel stories. There’s a simple reason for this. Due to recording far too early in the morning and without enough coffee, I didn’t explain it (or anything else) on the podcast very well so here it is again. Hopefully I can do better in writing. Again without enough coffee.

The premise that drives most time travel stories is the fear of, or complications arisen from, altering the past and thus altering your present or future. You know, the old gimmick about going back in time and doing something where your grandma was never born and you wink (or in worse stories slowly fade) out of existence.  It’s a cute premise and writers have delighted in twisting it into progressively more convoluted webs of cause and effect. I will admit, they can fun stories. except there’s a logical flaw I can’t get over.

These stories are based on the notion there has been a version of history that goes up to the point in time where the time traveller goes back in time. There is a 1955 without the presence Marty McFly since he obviously hadn’t been born yet. Then he’s born, meets Doc Brown and in 1985 he goes back to 1955 and the highest of jinks ensue. Awesome. It’s a fun time.

The logical problem is this: there would not be a 1955 where he didn’t go back in time. When 1955 rolls around, so would Marty McFly in the DeLorean. The plot operates on the assumption Marty couldn’t be in 1995 until he travels back in time from 1985. Except as soon as he travels back from1985 he’s already done so, thirty years earlier, in 1955. There simply could not be two separate 1955s, one with, and one without, Marty McFly playing Chuck Berry songs. Just the one, the one with Marty fighting off his mom with a stick in his Calvin Kleins and discovering his dad’s a peeping tom named Crispin Glover.

With Back to the Future, I can accept this flawed logic. It’s a comedy and the story is a lot more fun with Marty scrambling to make sure his parents hook-up and changing the 1985 he returns to for the better. Which, by the movie’s own logic, doesn’t make sense because if he’d changed that 1985, circumstances would have been changed so that the chain of events that lead to him going back in time wouldn’t have happened and he wouldn’t have gone back in time to change it. But fuck it. It’s Michael J. Fox and the movie’s awesome. But many time travel stories  use this logic and I can’t take them as seriously as they require me to.

Time travel stories that work better, take into consideration that time that has occurred, has occurred. An example might be The Terminator. When the time traveller goes back in time and their actions bring about the circumstances that lead to them travelling back in time, it’s a nice neat closed circuit loop.

My problem at this point is either there’s no dramatic tension because you know it’s going to work out to a pre-ordained future/present, or they’re going to change the past which, as I’ve said, I can’t swallow unless it’s Michael J. Fox.

As far as whether or not I believe time travel is possible, there’s proof it’s not. Time travellers are not showing up anywhere. Some people say, Well, maybe they just haven’t invented it yet. This falls prey to the same flaw in logic I’ve outlined. If someone was going to travel back to 1955, they would have shown up in 1955 and we’d know. The counter argument is, What if they successfully disguised themselves? My response is, Are we talking about the same fallible species of fuck-ups and selfish opportunists? There’s no way humans will ever time travel covertly. We will always be way too incompetent for that. Unless we evolve into small grey munchkins with big black eyes, become anally facinated and our time-machines are saucer-shaped, I don’t think we’ve visited ourselves from the future.

I’m not sure I’ve explained my stance on time travel any better than I did in the episode. Which you can listen to here.

Thanks to Elton McManus of the Apotheosis of a Bombast podcast for the topic suggestion (time travel, not porn).

Links: Poland was totally under communist rule; Robotic Forest Gump suits; Time Cat; Peter Pond was not a crazy axe-murdering cannibal; Deadwood; Minority Report commercials; Life expectancy calculator.

This week’s task: Go back in time and change something.


Episode 018: Podcastration (Special Edition)

May 18, 2009

Podcasts. Lots of people don’t listen to them. Obviously, you’re not one of them. Why don’t people listen to podcasts? Too nerdy? Too much hassle? Too poddy?

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


Episode 017: Star Trek reboot premier (Special Edition)

May 14, 2009

We didn’t plan to make the Star Trek XI episode a “special” but it ended up being very special thanks to Michael and Roxanne who we met at a pre-opening night screening in Toronto. We brought our tricorder to record people in line’s thoughts going in, but found most nerds don’t want to have their nerdiness captured for worldwide broadcast on the intertubes. Also, there was no “line” per se as no one seemed to know the film was even opening. We had a nicely half-empty theatre to stretch out in. Afterwards, we got into Mike and Roxy’s Lumina  van to debrief on the experience, the results of which you can hear in #17  Nerd Trek The Motion Picture. They turned out to be fun people  involved with the Ad-Astra sci-fi and fantasy literature convention and not geek-nappers trolling sci-fi movies for victims.

Okay, so this is a Transport, not a Lumina, but you get the picture.

A small errata: Peter from Mediasaurs pointed out it’s a Corvette, not a Mustang in the film as I have mistakenly stated on the podcast and all over the internet. I honestly couldn’t force myself pay enough attention to that horrible scene to take note of the car. Also, I’m not the biggest car buff. It was red, right? It does make sense since Chevrolet makes the Corvette and the Lumina van. Clearly a Star Trek tie-in.

We forgot to come up with a Task for this week’s show. Go see the movie! That’s your task.


Episode 016: Robots? More Like Ro-nots (Special Edition)

May 6, 2009

Mandi doesn’t like robots. Jakob is a robot. Data is not a robot, he’s an android. The Evil T-1000 is lame.

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


Episode 015: Nerd Pride (Special Edition)

April 26, 2009

Say it loud, I am a nerd and I am quite proud, to be honest! Jakob and Mandi explore what it means to be a nerd in our society and why it should be a source of pride. Other topics include the Nerd of the Month and the ginger havens.

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


Episode 014: Ender’s Game (Special Edition)

April 20, 2009

Jakob didn’t want to read sci-fi classic Ender’s Game because Star Wars Episode 1 convinced him sci-fi about children is doomed to utter failure. Ender schooled him up proper, but what did Mandi think? Kumar will be glad to know Jakob was not only wrong in this episode, but quantifiably wrong. Also, a chapter on how our heroes also make a big announcement about Nerd Hurdles.

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


Episode 013: Iron Man and Tupperware Wolf (Special Edition)

April 13, 2009

Tinfoil Man has all but vanished into obscurity, but his alter ego, Iron Man, opens the way for discussion on poo, the nature of mythology and currency of the realm. Recorded the day after the Transformers episode, Mandi is once again under the weather and feels she is not responsible for anything she said. Jakob enlightens us about ancient history.

A NOTE ON THE SPECIAL EDITIONS: Before we joined the Simply Syndicated network, the first 31 episodes of Nerd Hurdles were hosted on Podbean. Technically, they still are. But since letting our pro-account lapse there’s been a bandwidth problem were the files are only available for the first half of the month before they hit the Podbean ceiling. While SimSyn’s hosting was on Libsyn, we started releasing these episodes as “Special Editions” with newly recorded introductions. When SimSyn moved our hosting to Soundcloud, those files were again lost (and we’d only managed to upload the first 10 anyway). So, here they are once more; uploaded to a 3rd audio service and hopefully the last.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: