What Fans Love

February 14, 2012

In honour of Valentine’s Day—traditionally the worst day of the year for a nerd—here’s a graphic breakdown of the things nerds love and how much they loves ’em. Click to see it full size.

Episode 121: HP7DHPt2 (Accio Spoilers)

July 22, 2011

deathly hallows part 2 podcast

We’ve given you a full week to see the film and something like four years to read the book, so we’re not even going to bother warning you this episode/blog post contains spoilers. Your puny Petronus is no match for our Avada Spoilavra anyway.

A decade of Harry Potter comes to a close with HP7DHPt2. Which is the second half of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and not a new virulent strain of the flu.

Yet, like a malaise, this cinematic end is causing acute sadness in some people. It’s the end of a magical era. There will no longer be another installment to look forward to; No annual booster shot of enchantment to revive the spell cast by the books that were such a profound experience for so many.

In others there’s merely this vague sense of relief or, if that’s putting it too strongly, a sense of finality somewhat similar to putting a cherished pet to sleep after a long and fulfilled life. But a pet you were never really that fond of. What’s playing next?

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Cage Match 6: Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy

June 10, 2011

Science Fiction. Fantasy. In any bookstore or public library you’ll find them lumped together as Sci-Fi/Fant. Often this is fair since there’s a lot of an “You got peanut butter on my chocolate”  approach taken with both genres.

Or as Miriam Allen deFord said, “Science fiction deals with improbable possibilities, fantasy with plausible impossibilities.

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Episode 030: Previously on… (Special Edition)

September 2, 2009

Every ten episodes we like to do something special. We read letters for 10 and for 20 we played clips from the “gag reel” plus some audio comments. This time around I wanted to do something really special. But I forgot to plan anything so we decided to recap the first 29 episodes, talking about all the points we’d wished me made in hindsight. None of which it turned out we could remember months after the fact. We’ve come to the conclusion these “specials” aren’t so special so this will be this last one until episode 50 (a reasonable milestone). This gives us some time to plan something spectacular.

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 026: Half Blood Prince (Special Edition)

July 25, 2009

We talk to Kumar through the floo network, are visted by Eliza’s patronus and Ben sends us a muggle recording by owl while Igor annoys Mandi.

There’s a moment in the Half Blood Prince movie that is sublime. It’s when Harry takes a shrooms tincture and hallucinated he’s at a funeral for a ginormous spider. It’s pure gold. That kid is hillarious high. Here’s a clip of him at one of his E parties.

Speaking of parties, this week we talk to Kumar through the floo network, are visted by Eliza’s patronus and Ben sends us a muggle recording by owl while Igor (seen being a creeper here) annoys Mandi.

Click here for Episode 26!

Project Potter: Half Blood Prince

July 6, 2009

Though I enjoyed it more, generally, than Order of the Complainers, I can’t remember much of The Half-Blood Snape. I’m finding there’s not much to say about it. My one complaint is with all that’s going on, I find it hard to believe Harry would care much about quiddich or house points or girls. Okay, girls maybe. Love always flourishes in times of strife. But when Snape is unfairly taking points away from Gryffindor, the fact Harry thinks any of that matters just further strengthens my belief he is a big wiener. He may as well change his name to Skywalker.

Otherwise, there are only two things I can remember about this book. The first is the underground lake full of zombies. Awesome. Though Rowling massively pulls some punches in the that scene. She may have brought zombies to the table, but then she doesn’t let us have any. What a crappy host. I can only hope these Inferi creatures show up again in The Deadly Marshmallows and are used to their full potential.

The second big event is of course the Snapester killing Dumbledor. I have to give Rowling props for not having him saved by some contrived bit of magic like Snape’s curse was blocked by a cigarette case or a jinx-proof vest. Which is what I was expecting. I am however concerned he’s going to pull an Obi-Wan and show up as a ghost or, worse, is perhaps living in Harry’s wand.

Anyway, Half-Blood Prince. It’s alright. Don’t have much to say about it.

Project Potter: Chamber of Azkaban

May 29, 2009

I finished Chamber of Secrets a while ago. For that matter, I also finished Prisoner of Azkaban. I’ve been terribly neglect in keeping blog posts up to date on my progress.  I guess I haven’t wanted to spoil any comments I might make on the podcast segments. I guess I have to get over that hurdle and blog as I read. Anyway, here’s my thoughts on books two and three of the Harold Potter epic.

Chamber of Secrets:

Plagiarism 1: The flying car was bad enough before it freaking turned into Herbie the Love Bug.

Plagiarism 2: Aragog the giant spider is not only a cut-and paste of Shelob from Tolkien, she isn’t even used to full effect. Half the book is spent building Shelob, I mean Aragorn, er, I mean Aragog up as the monster only to entirely discard it 6/8s of the way through. The final battle at the end would have been way more epic if it’d be between a giant freaking snake and a giant freaking spider instead of a giant snake versus a weepy bird and a blubbering emo git.

Ridiculous contrivance 1: Tom Riddle‘s name being the lamest riddle ever didn’t add much to the scene. If you’re going to play the anagram name game, you need to do a few things. First, you have to give the protagonist and reader all the clues early enough on in the book that there is even a point to having the riddle in there. Springing it at the 11th hour just seems pointless. Secondly, the name needs to be believable enough to not be obviously contrived to make the anagram work. Movolo is not only worst made-up middle name in fiction, it’s doubly bad that it’s only there because it’s the best Rowling could come up with to spell out something to do with Voldemort. A much better anagram of Voldemort is Dr. Tom Love.  No one would suspect Dr. Love of being the dark lord.

Plagiarism 3: At some point they start talking about wizards “going over to the dark side.”  Steal the concept, sure.  But come up with your own terminology at least. Shameful.

Ridiculous contrivance 2: Why the hell does Harry have to go back to live with the Dursley’s every summer. Surely Hagrid, the Weasleys, the Grangers or even Dumbledore would take him in for the summer if they knew the extent of the psychological abuse he was enduring. Or does Dumbledore think it’s character building? Does it keep Harry’s ego in check? Is this ever explained? Mandi suggested there’s a protection charm on their house, but I think she got that from a fanfic. At the very least, it couldn’t be safer than Hogwarts.

But also, after battling Voldemort, giant snakes, werewolves, giant spiders and Dementors, you’d think Harry couldn’t take Uncle Vernon as a serious threat anymore. Even if Harry isn’t allowed to use magic against Vernon, you’d think he’d view the man as a total joke after what he’s been through. “Sure, bellow at me in  ALL CAPS. What-ever, you fat pathetic fuck of a loser. I just killed a fucking giant snake with a fucking bejeweled sword and killed it’s master with it’s fucking poisoned tooth.” Harry is an actual teenager, right? He needs to take a page from James Tiberius Kirk‘s book.

Plagiarism 4: Dementors = Nazguls. Cut and paste.

Ridiculous contrivance 3: I guess we’re into Prisoner of Azkaban territory now. Remus Lupin is raising Rowling’s cornball naming conventions to a new low. Mrs. Sprout the herbalist was bad enough but a werewolf named Lupin is shameful. Naming him Remus is even worse. Especially since he doesn’t come from a werewolf clan, he was bitten as a child. How his brother Romulus, or anyone in that world unfortunate enough to be named Wolfgang, escaped being bitten is beyond me. Apparently if you’re a wizard, names are entirely prophetic. Or, at least, maddeningly contrived. If your last name is Welles, don’t name your kid Trip.

Ridiculous contrivance 4: Though it’s nice they used time travel to rescue Buckbeak, there was no need to use Buckbeak to rescue Sirius Black. They didn’t need a flying creature to get up to his window when they all have freaking broomsticks. I guess just like all the times they forget they have an invisibility cloak to better drive the plot, they forgot about the broomsticks. Fair enough, it was more fun to read about than a simple, intelligent plan.

Ridiculous contrivance 5: I’d like a little more information about the wizard judicial system because it seems to be a kangaroo court that operates on circumstantial evidence.

Now, there were things I enjoyed about these two books. I would hate for you, dear reader, to think its been one long torturous slog I haven’t been enjoying. Not so. The books are fun and entertaining. And though I take issue with some of Rowling’s more contrived plot machinations, she does write with a well-paced flow and is a master of foreshadowing. She can write a satisfying page-turner, I will give her that. She’s not bad a light humour either. I can’t actually remember anything I did like especially. I guess just everything except what I’ve listed above.

In some ways, I’m not sure why Harry Potter brings out the critic in me. After all, I can swallow Star Trek lock, stock and two smoking phaser-banks. I think Potter is a classic nerd hurdle for me. Classic in that it’s the fervent passion of the fans that get my critical back up and make me say, “Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa! It’s not that good. And here’s why…”

Next up: Goblet of Quiddich. It’s not all about freaking quiddich is it?

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