Episode 178: Role Playing Games

November 7, 2013



Nathan’s back with a 2d10 attack. We reminisce about rolls and roles we’ve shared.

Episode 177: GONE HOME

November 7, 2013


Nathan drops by, again, to talk about video games, again. This time we focus on the brilliant indie game Gone Home from The Fullbright Company.

Puke Dance: Weird Search Terms, Aug 2012

September 13, 2012

A lot of the weirdos must have been away from the Internet in August because we got a lot fewer completely baffling searches. Fewer, but not none

dancing hurler gif: Hmm. Must have been looking for this.

puke dance

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Weird Search Terms June 2012: geeks are truly nerds

July 1, 2012

we so special aren’t we: We is that. So special we due for a pocalypse.

selene underworld porn pitchers: Toss those videos right in here. Schwing battabattabatta schwing!

بورن هوب سكس سكس امريكي اغتصاب: “Born U.S. hop sex sex rape” WTF ? Maybe something was lost in the translation?  O_o

rape sexy movie for adults: Sure, they’re classics but those Disney rape sexy movies are watered-down versions for the kiddies.

seven of nine cameltoe: Also weird camel-ribs. What’s up with those?

stargate captain carter cameltoe: Carter Cameltoe got a lot of ribbing about his name at the Academy.

seven of nine chakotay fanfiction: That is the least likely… no… just no.

dan mully & foxx sculder: It’s finally happened. Porn stars have run out of names.

“nerd swords”: Starring Dan Mully and Foxx Sculder.

famous people with asperger’s: An interesting LIST though their definition of “famous” seems a little debatable. Oddly, Dan Mully does not appear.

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Episode 147 – State of the Nerd Nation (Has Nerd Culture Changed?)

June 1, 2012

Click to listen to the State of the Nerd Nation address

Has Nerd Culture Changed?

In the roughly three-ish years we’ve been doing the podcast, I’ve noticed a drastic change in so-called Nerd Culture. A pop culture explosion, if you will. Some have even called it a mainstreamization.

But has Nerd Culture truly become Mainstream Culture?

Yes, it’s unequivocal that shows like Big Bang Theory have brought Nerd Culture into the limelight. But have they made it any more socially acceptable to be a nerd?

Some say yes as more people than ever identify as “nerd” and let their nerd flag fly. Science Fiction books are no longer hidden behind copies of classic novels on the bookshelf, Captain America is now acceptable water-cooler talk and  “geek chic” is the latest trend in fashion.

But does this mean there more nerds in the world? Has any normie truly been “turned” by all the nerd propaganda coming out of Hollywood and the Internet? What makes someone a “nerd” and is it any easier for someone who was “born this way” to live in our society?

There’s a difference between appreciating Nerd Culture and being a Nerd.

People that call themselves nerds

Nerd Culture includes a bevy of of popular things: Comic books, sci-fi and fantasy movies or books, vampires and zombie television shows, video games…

Due to the association of the nerdy fan who’s rabidly obsessed with above, mainstream society has traditionally looked upon these things as nerdy. But a nerd might not even like any them.

A nerd is more than a sum of their interests. A nerd is a person who  cannot fit into mainstream society; a person who is devalued or simply overlooked by mainstream society; someone who will never be accepted by mainstream society. And it has nothing to do with liking Star Trek.

People who are nerds, true nerds, nerds deep in their DNA, are cripplingly socially awkward. Even if they figured that their “time is now” in the wake of Big Bang Theory, they wouldn’t even be able to pull off geek chic—they’d get it wrong somehow. A real nerd cannot “blend” into social gathering. They will make social faux pas and either succumb to withering mortification at the fact or blunder on heedlessly. Some nerds will become bitter and grow walls around themselves claiming they “don’t want to be accepted by mainstream culture” and others will die agonizing that they never were.

But the commonality between all true nerds is that no matter how many prime time sitcoms there are, no matter how many people follow Wil Wheaton on Twitter, they cannot and will not be assimilated.

Pop goes the Nerd

So it’s no wonder that in the golden age of the Internet—the natural habitat of the nerd—an explosion of Nerd Culture occurred. A grassroots movement of memes, videos, tweets, web shows, podcasts, blogs sprouted into existence in the safe haven of the social outcast. A hidden subculture became so prevalent (on a medium more ubiquitous than television or radio ever were in their golden ages) that it was unable to be ignored by the rest of society.

And with the right tweaking, with enough attractive faces attached, Nerd Culture was ready to be packaged, shipped and sold back to its originators.

And Nerds ate it up.

Artistic merit and legitimate talent be damned, all it takes to launch your YouTube career is to pay homage to a movie, videogame or Nerd Culture in general (and it helps to be a cute—not actually very nerdy—girl). Nerds will geekgasm all over you no matter if what you’re doing has any merit or not.

The Nerd Singularity?

Finally, acceptance and legitimization. No more hiding in the margins, no more biting your tongue when someone in the lunch room says Tony Stark has superpowers. The Nerd Singularity has been realized: Mainstream Culture and Nerd Culture are one and the same!

But are they? What’s really going on here? I see it as two fold.

1) Exploitative acceptance or “House Nerds”

Shows like Big Bang Theory are doing for nerds what shows like Will & Grace did for the LGBT community. Though Will & Grace did  help make openly gay characters on TV and in movie less of an issue, the character of Jack was the stereotypical “gay clown”.

Jack’s fabulousness was the butt of the joke in almost every scene he was in. For that matter, Will’s neatness, design style and body consciousness was as well. The show made it okay to laugh at gay stereotypes because it created the illusion of laughing with them. Still, it opened a lot of doors. It was a deal with a fairly benign devil, but a devil none the less.

It opened doors for LGBTs who could pass or were non-threatening. But not the doors to the marriage chapels in many States in America. And if you’re truly, absolutely fabulous—to the point where you neither can nor want to blend in, Will & Grace didn’t change the fact you’re a target to be mocked.

Big Bang Theory does the same thing with Nerds. The average person who likes Star Trek or comic books might feel more comfortable identifying as a Nerd, and their friends more likely yo accept it, but the True Nerd, the person with Apergers or autism, the mouth-breather, the person who’s intensely ADHT, the acne-ridden adult, the person suffering from any number of social anxiety disorders, the chronically overweight and the simply painfully socially inept are still social outcasts.

And some Nerds are happy to dance to please their Normie masters, believing they’re free.

2) Geek Chic is the new Punk Rock/Goth/Emo

nerd fail girlAt its very core, what is “geek chic”? Is it people dressing like nerds?

No, not at all. It’s people adopting aspects of a cartoonish stereotype of the nerd. Vintage Buddy Holly or Sally Jessy Raphael glasses, bow-ties and retro Star Wars decal t-shirts.

True Nerds do not wear these things.

The uniform of the True Nerd is an oversize Wolverine or Darth Maul t-shirt tucked into a pair of jogging pants and if they wear glasses their eye-wear is affordable, practical, unfashionable wire frames.

Geek chic less about being nerdy and more about giving society the finger. It’s like dying your hair green or wearing  an eyebrow piercing was in in the 1990’s. It says “I’m not part of your mainstream society, but I am am desperate to conform to a cultural subset that is fashionable.”

How many people (from teens to celebrities) are trying to become geeks as opposed to merely emulating what they saw in a magazine. After all, those giant nerd glasses all the girls wear started with hipster models saying “I can wear something this hideous and still be hotter than you.”

But a True Nerd doesn’t look hot in those glasses, they look like a total nerdbag.

So, then, what is the State of the Nerd Nation?

Vastly different yet exactly the same as it ever was.

I estimate there’s only about 10% of the population who are True Nerds. And about 10% are true Coolie-Woolies. The remaining 80% of us, whether we identify as nerd or normie, are just people.

Nerds, Cool People and Everyone Else

Most people are a bit socially awkward but they can “pass” in society. A lot of people (literally billions of dollars worth) enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy but aren’t obsessed. Almost everyone spends too much time on the Internet. A lot of people are beautiful but somehow aren’t “cool” and pretty much everyone around you is just plain average—not really nerdy, not really not-nerdy either.

What’s changed in the last three years is the vast middle ground is now okay with being called a Nerd. Even though they’re not really True Nerds.

And it’s still open season on the real Sheldon Coopers of this world.

Videos discussed in the episode:

Bill Nye dancing: “Nerd or Douchebag?”

Cast your vote!

Epic Proposal

Montreal kids: “I gotta feeling”

Mandi’s weird YTV fandom: PJ Katie’s Farm

Do not succumb to porn. Weird search terms, March 2012.

April 19, 2012

Due to a variety of reasons, I’m way late with our March round-up of unusual search terms. In unrelated news, the world didn’t end.

fashion for 80’s nerds men: A good tip for nailing nerd fashion is to dress like someone in their 80’s.

are birkinstocks for nerds: Only if the nerds are lesbians.

what do mathematicians wear: Birkenstocks.

nerd scum: A colloquial term for the residue build up found on track-pads and mice. It commonly consists of skin cells, sebaceous fluid and Dorito’s seasoning.

the hurdle sex toy: Our plans for the “Wangina”—a combination penis and vagina sex toy—was abandoned. Mostly because we couldn’t figure out what that would look like.

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Episode 142 – LEGO

March 27, 2012

Click to listen to LEGO podcast


LEGO: The Building Blocks of Our Society?

In nostalgic conversations about childhood, one of the only toys almost everyone agrees on is LEGO. Appealing to a common creative node in our brains, since the 1950s boys and girls have embraced the brightly coloured gender-neutral building blocks. Well, until about the turn of the century anyway when LEGO suddenly became “for boys only”.

Of course, it wasn’t sudden if you were paying attention to the LEGO shelves in the big corporate toy stores. Slowly the service station and farm sets made way for yet another Star Wars set. Then BioniclePirates of the Carribean and Harry Potter started taking up the lion’s share of space. Plain old regular LEGO even found itself making way for surprisingly violent non-franchise lines such as Ninjago, Dino, Alien Conquest, Kingdoms, Racers, and even City which is like more traditional LEGO sets but an extreme version populated exclusively with cops and firemen.

Young Boys’ Club

Just take a look at the screen capture (below) of the LEGO website and see how “boy-centric” LEGO has become. You have to scroll down just to see “Bricks and More” (which is the completely underwhelming name for “starter sets”).

Click to embiggen

Click to see full product line

Now, of course there are plenty of girls out there who would love to play with Pharaoh’s Quest, DC Universe Superheroes, or Technic, but there’s plenty more suburban moms fully-indoctrinated into stereotypical gender roles who would never buy them these sets.

So what at first seemed like the pointless and backwards move on LEGO’s part, there might actually be a need for the new “girl-centric” Friends line. There’s absolutley no way merchandisers were going to ever be able to get stores to give up Star Wars shelf space for boring old basic sets. LEGO needed to make a splash. They needed to produce something for the media to get excited about; for people to get angry and blog about. Something blatantly, sexistly pink.

Making Friends

Unfortunately, it seems like instead of bringing girls and boys together they’ve seemingly segregated them by creating a more Bratz-like alternative to the iconic Minifigs. They’re making it easy for the suburbanites by saying “This is not Little Johnny’s LEGO, this is something completely different.

Not that kids ultimately abide these toy segregations, I remember seeing Han Solo having tea in a Littlest Pet Shop somewhere.

But it’s still unfortunate LEGO has wedged a separator-tool in between the “boy” and “girl” bricks because when we had a chance to see them in action at the mall a few weeks ago, they’re actually far better than the franchise-oriented sets they’ve been producing for the last decade or so.

As much as it pains me to say it but—with a return to a more basic style of set—Friends is better geared towards the open-ended creativity that always made LEGO great. It’s something that’s been missing from the franchise sets. The problem with Star Wars LEGO or the DC sets is by their very nature you can only build things from those franchises.

Creativity UnBound

A couple of years ago I tried to play with my (pretty vast) collection of Star Wars LEGO and soon became bored. I didn’t want to make Star Wars vehicles, I wanted to just create something. I couldn’t. By the very nature of the pieces everything ended up Star Wars.

I remembered that as a kid, before there even were Star Wars sets, it was so much more fun trying to make an X-wing out of regular old LEGO. Maybe it was yellow and blue and the X-foils didn’t collapse, but  it was a rewarding creative experience

Watching the kids play with Friends at the tables, I could tell those bricks had the same creative potential. Though whatever you made was going to be a gaudy pastel shade, you could build anything you wanted—a hair salon or an armored riot-control vehicle.

Let the Pieces Fall Where they May

What is sad is that boys are going to be the ones losing out here. They’re going to be stuck with their restrictive, uncreative Ninjago sets while girls are learning to make connections with their minds. Hopefully those suburban moms and dads will be able to suppress their homophobia long enough to let Little Johnny play with his sister’s new Friends.

LEGO Grand Theft Auto

Some of Jakob’s student work from graphic design school, circa 2003.

Episode 141: Social Media Gaming

March 13, 2012

Social Media Gaming Sims Social Angry Birds Farmville Triple Town

Whether we admit to it or not, we’ve all, at some time, let a game attached to a social media website take over our lives.

It might just be for a short time, but once our dopamine receptors get wise to the triggers in problem solving games like Angry Birds and Triple Town, there’s no turning back.

Interestingly, games with absolutely no problem solving prove to be devilishly addictive. Sims Social on Facebook is one such game. Like the proper Sims games, it is an allegory for real life where you strive to complete empty tasks for empty achievements. For some reason we find this gratifying.

Eventually it feels a bit empty and you build a confinement room in your backyard near the well where you dump the bodies and quietly wait for the cops to show up.

Episode 118 – Bored Games 2 (with Kennedy)

June 24, 2011

Looking over the shownotes of our first board games episode, it seems to me we cover absolutely no new ground in this episode. Except of course this episode contains 100% more Kennedy of the Starbase 66 and Books You Should Read podcasts. And really, any topic would have just been an excuse to hang out and gab.

This was recorded just before the Charlie Sheen #winning explosion and before every single person knew what Angry Birds is all about. Amazing how fast pop culture moves.


Settlers of Catan

List of Monopoly editions

Possible board game movies

Best movie board games


Episode 002: The Nerd Store (Special Edition)

January 8, 2009

There’s certain stores normies darest not enter… Mandi worked at one.

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.

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