(4 comments, 45 posts)

Cranialspasm (aka Ali) has recently come to terms with her nerdocity. It was once a dirty secret. Hiding comic books, DVDs and a metric ton of polyhedral dice was second nature because she worried that people wouldn't take her seriously. Then she realized something. Serious people are boring. Ali is not boring. Unless you mention her day job. Then her eyes glaze over.
You can also find the random ramblings from her brainpan on her website

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Posts by cranialspasm

Dominion: A Card Game of Epic Sovereignty

One evening, a friend brought over a card game that I had never played before. I have had experience with many different card games but this brought me so much joy I wanted to share it all with you.

Dominion is a game of chance, strategy and conquer published by Rio Grande Games. Dominion is a deck building card game where you create your own deck as you play. In Magic the Gathering, you begin the game with a deck that you have already created, while in a game like Munchkin you create your spread from a deck that everyone chooses from. In Dominion, each person starts with ten cards, and purchases from the decks that are available to others.

Confused? Actually it’s quite simple once you understand the mechanics of the game.

In the magical box, there are five main classes of cards:

Victory Card

VICTORY cards – These are signified by green embellishment and generally have no value during the game, but the point of the game is to end up with the largest amount of land.

Treasure Card

TREASURE cards – These are signified by gold embellishment and are used during the buy phase of your turn. They typically generate coins to spend on other cards (and sometimes they have other effects).

Action Card

ACTION cards – These are often signified by parchment white embellishment. These generate effects during a player’s turn offering them bonuses. Some also issue negative effects for the other players.

Curse Card

CURSE cards – These are signified by purple embellishment. A curse card during play is much like a Victory card, but it has a negative point value that counts against your final tally.

Reaction Card

REACTION cards – These are often signified by blue embellishment and can be used outside of your turn in response to a certain event, like an attack.


So , Ali… How do you play the game?

Thank you for asking, internet stranger!

Before the game begins, there is a setup phase. In the base game, there are 25 of them. The card titles are Adventurer, Bureaucrat, Cellar, Chancellor, Chapel, Council Room, Feast, Festival, Gardens, Laboratory, Library, Market, Militia, Mine, Moat, Moneylender, Remodel, Smithy, Spy, Thief, Throne Room, Village, Witch, Woodcutter, and Workshop. You have ten of most cards and they are the cards you can purchase throughout the game to create your deck.

Only TEN of the Kingdom Cards are used during each game, so game can vary greatly on the cards chosen. Some people play where someone will select the cards, but we do it this way. There is a deck consisting of an extra “Kingdom Card”. We randomly select ten of those cards and they are placed on the table in addition to stacks of Victory cards and stacks of Treasure cards (of varying values/costs). These are the stacks that you will use to build your deck.

Each player starts with 3 Estates and 7 Copper. This is your starting “deck”. You shuffle the cards and draw five cards. The first player then gets to participate in the following steps for their turn:
1. ACTION: If you have an action card in your hand you choose to play it. It can give you a bonus or screw an opponent.
2. BUY: You start with one buy for your turn. If your ACTION gives you a bonus buy, you can buy two things. You use whatever Treasure cards you have in your hand (gold embellishments) to purchase a single card from any of the decks that you can afford. The purchase price of the card is located on the bottom left of each card. You don’t need to use all of your coins, nor do you need to use multiple buys if you are granted them.
3. CLEAN-UP: At the end of your turn, all cards in your hand (and purchased card) is placed into your face-up discard pile. You then draw five new cards from your deck.

The player on your left’s turn then begins. They have their action, buy, and clean-up rounds and then it continues to you.

When your deck is all facing upwards, you shuffle it and that becomes your deck. The first few turns consist of a lot of shuffling, but once you amass a sizeable deck each time you draw you get a hand that is customized to your own strategy.

The game is over two ways:
When the stack of the highest Victory card has been depleted (in the base game that is the Province card)
When a certain amount of stacks on the table have been depleted (it varies on the amount of players).

When gameplay ends, it is each players responsibility to separate the cards of their deck (to file away for another game) and count the Victory cards they have collected. The person with the highest score is the winner.

It comes organized and separated. It makes the OCD in me sooooooooo happy!

I understand that this seems like an extremely confusing game, but I have found it to be SO much easier to deal with than Munchkin. In Munchkin there is such a variety of cards it tends to be overwhelming. In Dominion it keeps the actual action cards to a minimum and allows you a better understanding/utilization of what is available.
The best part is that with 25 different cards available, there are so many permutations of what you could actually play. It keeps the game fresh and the cards work differently together so your strategy alters during the time you spend. Also, it’s easier to keep some of the more devious* players in check. When there are three hundred different cards, it’s hard to keep some people honest.


After you’ve gotten the hang of the base system of Dominion, you may even consider adding in the expansion sets.

Intrigue pulls in the seedier side of things with the addition of Baron, Bridge, Conspirator, Coppersmith, Courtyard, Duke, Great Hall, Harem, Ironworks, Masquerade, Mining Village, Minion, Nobles, Pawn, Saboteur, Scout, Secret Chamber, Shanty Town, Steward, Swindler, Torturer, Trading Post, Tribute, Upgrade, and Wishing Well.
Seaside lets you gets you waterlogged with the addition of Ambassador, Bazaar, Caravan, Cutpurse, Embargo, Explorer, Fishing Village, Ghost Ship, Haven, Island, Lighthouse, Lookout, Merchant Ship, Native Village, Navigator, Outpost, Pearl Diver, Pirate Ship, Salvager, Sea Hag, Smugglers, Tactician, Treasure Map, Treasury, Warehouse, and Wharf.
Alchemy lets you dabble in mixology with the addition of Alchemist, Apothecary, Apprentice, Familiar, Golem, Herbalist, Philosopher’s Stone, Possession, Scrying Pool, Transmute, University, and Vineyard.
Prosperity lets you get your greed on with the addition of Bank, Bishop, City, Contraband, Counting House, Expand, Forge, Goons, Grand Market, Hoard, King’s Court, Loan, Mint, Monument, Mountebank, Peddler, Quarry, Rabble, Royal Seal, Talisman, Trade Route, Vault, Venture, Watchtower, and Worker’s Village.
Cornucopia adds more variety with the addition of Fairgrounds, Farming Village, Fortune Teller, Hamlet, Harvest, Horn of Plenty, Horse Traders, Hunting Party, Jester, Menagerie, Remake, Tournament, and Young Witch
Hinterlands encourages your wanderlust with the addition of Border Village, Cache, Cartographer, Crossroads, Develop, Duchess, Embassy, Farmland, Fool’s Gold, Haggler, Highway, Ill-Gotten Gains, Inn, Jack of All Trades, Mandarin, Margrave, Noble Brigand, Nomad Camp, Oasis, Oracle, Scheme, Silk Road, Spice Merchant, Stables, Trader, and Tunnel.

Rio Grande Games will also be releasing a replacement pack (for when your regularly used cards get oogey) in March 2012, an expansion called Dark Ages in August 2012, and an expansion called The Guilds in Spring 2013. Visit their website here.




*Devious players aren’t bad people. Some people really take gaming seriously and always want to win so they operate differently.

The Muppets (2011)


The Muppets (2011)



Why are there so many songs about rainbows? More importantly, why is it that sentence can always make me tear up?

On May 20, 2011 a trailer dropped for a movie billed as “Green With Envy”. It seemed like every hacky romantic comedy that I have seen so many times. I was moderately angry that Chris Hardwick had even tweeted about it. The moment the cast cards came up and I heard “Kermit the… Frog?” I started bouncing in my seat.

I had loved the Muppet Studios videos that they had been posting up on YouTube. Especially watching my friend’s little girl see Animal for the first time. The Muppets were such an integral part of my childhood, it didn’t click that there were kids that might not know about it.

That is actually talked about in the movie. The story is not from Kermit’s point of view. The story comes from the perspective of Walter, a Smalltown Muppet who never felt like he belonged unless he was watching the Muppet Show. His brother Gary (Jason Segel) surprises him with a ticket to go to Los Angeles with Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to check out Muppet Studios.

During his visit, he learns of a nefarious plot by greedy oil tycoon Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to destroy the old studio. With the help of Gary, Mary, and Walter, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater with a benefit concert.

When they say “star-studded”, they aren’t kidding. Besides the leads, there is an outpouring of recognizable talent that pops in at the funniest of times. Alan Arkin, Rashida Jones, Bill Cobbs, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jim Parsons, Eddie Pepitone, Kristen Schaal, Sarah Silverman, Donald Glover, Emily Blunt, James Carville, Feist, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez, Dave Grohl, Neil Patrick Harris, Judd Hirsh, John Krasinski, Rico Rodriguez, Mickey Rooney, and Jack Black pack into a film that I’m guessing EVERYONE wanted in on.

I completely enjoyed this movie and am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few happy tears to see the characters I love so much from my childhood on the big screen again. The new songs were so very Muppet. They were both catchy and endearing and I find myself itching to learn “Life’s a Happy Song” on my ukulele. “Pictures in my Head” had me bawling in the theater. I kind of want to hug Christophe Beck (who had done a few scores for Buffy and Angel in addition to the Hangover), Bret McKenzie (from Flight of the Conchords) and everyone in the music department.

One thing I do suggest is that you see the movie before you spend time with the Soundtrack. There are a lot of things that would be less of a surprise if you were to listen to the recordings before seeing how well the visual gags hit. I am also very happy that not a lot of new chart topping songs were thrown into the mix. It jumped back to the timelessness of it all.

I had heard that during a Q&A in one of the various convention panels, a fan asked “What can we do to get the Muppets back on TV” and the cheeky reply was “Go see the movie three times!” If that is the case, I have almost done my part. I actually have plans to see it two more times while it’s still in the theater.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be in the Muppets. Walter and I are similar, except he’s already got the felt thing going for him.

Review: Dawn of the Dragonslayer

Dawn of the Dragonslayer tells the story of Will (Richard McWilliams), a shepherd’s son whose land is ravaged by a dragon. After his flock is destroyed he takes his father’s advice to look for a better life. He is encouraged to approach Baron Sterling (Ian Cullen) to cash in a debt owed to his father.

Under the impression that he is meant to be a bondsman training to be a knight, his thoughts of a better life are extinguished when he recognizes that the Baron is suffering a financial windfall. He is initially sent away until he reveals a sealed document from his father. The Baron reluctantly agrees to employ him, but the Baron’s servants immediately delegate the less tasteful jobs to Will.

Although the experience wasn’t quite what he expected, he took note of the Baron’s lovely daughter, Kate (Nicola Posener). As sparks start between them, a young nobleman named Rogan (Philip Brodie) arrives with a request for Kate’s hand.

During these deliciously awkward moments, the dragon migrates to the Baron’s lands. The Baron, hungry for glory and gold leaves with Rogan to take down the monster. While they are away, Kate reveals a book that helps Will learn the lessons of a knight. Before he is ready to avenge his homeland, the dragon attacks the castle and Will manages to wound it.

Through faith in himself and his feelings for Kate, he sets off to finish what had started on his farm.

I have to admit that even though I had a bit of a setback*, I was a little hesitant to watch an independent film about dragons. I’m one of those people that loves the idea of being immersed in a movie, and if the budget isn’t high there are areas that tend to be shaved down.

I KICKED MYSELF once I started watching it. The special effects and underscoring were incredibly impressive. The dragon itself looked phenomenal and the magical moments were accentuated without distracting you from the actors, and their performances were compelling.

Richard McWilliams and Nicola Posener have a chemistry on screen that feels naïve but intense. The romance novel nerd in me squeed when there were slight facial clues of the character’s developing feelings. It was very well played in a training montage. Yes… That’s right. A montage. As Kate and Will are learning the ways of the Knight, there are stolen glances and tender moments.

One of my favorite characters is Lady Spriggs (Maggie Daniels), Kate’s Aunt who initially appears to be a minor character. When the Baron leaves to battle the dragon, however, she steps into a far more inspirational role to Will than the Baron could ever be.

As of right now, Dawn of the Dragonslayer is only available through UK distribution, and they are currently speaking with US distributors. If you “like” their facebook fanpage they can keep you abreast with the latest updates.


* Back in September, we posted an official press release for Dawn of the Dragonslayer’s World Premiere at Bleedfest 2011. In October, I managed to get my hands on a copy of the movie. Frankly, I love dragons. Can’t get enough of them. It was just my luck that the weekend I planned to watch it and write a review, Connecticut would have a freak snowstorm and leave 94% of the state without power for a week and a half. Guess which percentage I was a part of?

But there is still great news! ‎Dawn of the Dragonslayer was awarded Best Fantasy Film at Bleedfest 2011!

Review: Attack the Block (2011)

Since Halloween is steadily approaching, I figured I would suggest a few films that are definitely not made for children but have taken both the horror and sci-fi genres to a different level within the last few years.

I had the absolute pleasure of going to see Attack the Block earlier this month in Plainville, CT. I follow Edgar Wright on twitter and when he announced that the release was widening into my area, I had to go. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World instilled a little faith in Mr. Wright.

Each movie was a genre movie. It wasn’t a comedy trying to itch that genre niche. They are genre movies that have incredibly funny moments in them. They show a great nod to comedy, but display an intense love for the genre in the storyline.

I’m sure some people are saying “he only produced Attack the Block”. You’re correct. I still have faith in something that Edgar Wright would put his name on.

Faith bolstered, Mr. Wright.

Attack the Block is a science fiction thriller written and directed by Joe Cornish. It is the tale of a teenage gang that takes it upon themselves to defend their council housing in Lambeth from alien invaders.

The first few minutes of the movie established how unsavory the youth had become when we witness them mugging a nurse as she is walking home. The mugging is interrupted by something crashing from the sky into a parked car. The gang leader Moses goes to check it out and is attacked by a creature that he kills with the help of his friends.

What proceeds is absolute chaos. Throughout the area, the sky is lit up with fireworks, masking the illuminated single creature transporters crashing against the Earth and everything built on it.

Joe Cornish’s directorial debut is not something to be missed. His vision is well executed with phenomenal performances by John Boyega (Moses), Jodie Whittaker (Sam), and Luke Treadaway (Brewis, who I had taken to calling “British Butters”). The cinematographer, Thomas Townend, kept the pace with dynamic shots and exceptional angles.

I am beyond pleased with this movie. The aliens were actually alien and something that I had never seen before. Initially, when I saw the second alien in the movie I threw my hands up in the air because I thought it was so cheesy. Then it opened its mouth and I screamed “AWESOME!” in the theater.
(Make note: I am a horrible person to go to a movie with.)

All of the special effects were marvelous as well. Some scenes were perfect homage to scenes from the past. There are moments where you know what’s happening to these characters off the screen is more terrifying than the blood spatter you see. My favorite weapon was only used briefly as a defensive maneuver (motorbike).

The ending was exactly what needed to happen and I was not disappointed at all. I absolutely loved Sam and how she spoke with the boys in the gang. Brewis was the character where you could see someone following him just to play a sad trombone “wah wah” whenever he opened his mouth. Nick Frost was hysterical as the skeezy drug dealer for the block. There is a moment between him and Brewis where the entire theater laughed.

I loathe spoiling any of the story for you, so I suggest you get your hands on it. Attack the Block is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Attack the Block will kick you in your face with awesome.

Review: Tucker & Dale VS Evil (2010)

It has been YEARS since I laughed hysterically during a movie with horror elements. Tucker & Dale VS Evil has put the “laughter” back in “manslaughter”.

Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two best friends that take a weekend to fix up a dilapidated mountain house that Tucker pinched pennies to purchase. They are then mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of obnoxious, over-privileged college kids that chose an area nearby to pitch tents and camp.

During a skinny-dipping session one of the college kids, Alison (Katrina Bowden), is injured. Tucker and Dale attempt to lend a hand and notify her friends that they’ve saved her. Instead, the friends think that she has been abducted. With the cajoling of one in the group they decide that they have a time limit to saving their friend. They go to the house to rescue her.

Then someone dies. The misunderstanding between the two parties becomes seemingly unsurmountable.

As the body count increased, my laughter raised in decibels. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine have INSANE chemistry as redneck buddies. Their sometimes slow-witted thinking is equally balanced with a keen intellect and a genuine care for themselves and the things around them.

The gore and crazy ways people end up dying are amazing. I hope that some of them were pulled from the Darwin awards.

Have you ever laughed so hard at someone’s reaction to something that you thought you were going to pee your pants? No? … … … Me neither…

Tucker and Dale is definitely worth checking out. It is on limited release this month and I hope that it gets the viewers it needs to open nationwide.


If you just can’t wait to see Wash and Sock from two of the greatest TV shows cut from their prime dressed in flannel and wielding a chainsaw you need not fear. If you have digital cable, it is available On Demand. It’s a few dollars more than they normally are, but it is worth every cent.

Review: The Secret Circle on the CW

This post contains minor spoilers IF the CW decides to actually follow the story from the book… At all…


Oh CW… I wish I could quit you.


Yes, with the new seasons starting in the US, there are new shows coming out as well.

The CW optioned yet another one of L.J. Smith’s series. Last time it was Vampire Diaries, a series I wasn’t super invested in as a teenager. Now it’s The Secret Circle. Now… It’s personal.

Growing up in New England, Salem is pretty much your go to destination for Halloween hokery. The Secret Circle is a story about witches whose ancestors moved and established a new home in New Salem. Granted, they are not the most original of the bunch, but that’s fine.

In the books, Cassie is a shy sixteen year old girl who falls in love with a boy she saves on her summer vacation. She comes to find out that her mother and she are not leaving the area. In fact, they are returning to her mother’s hometown to live with her grandmother. School starts and she is taken under the wing of Diana. She eventually finds out… wait for it…  DIANA is a witch! Like, Fairuza Balk in The Craft type of witch. Wait. Not crazy. The crazy witch in Smith’s stories is Faye, an uncontrollable firestarter.

Out of all of her series, The Secret Circle trilogy was my second favorite with The Vampire Diaries coming out at the end of all of her Night World one-shot stories. Imagine my surprise when within the first five minutes, Cassie’s mother is dead and Cassie doesn’t save Adam on the beach. I was extremely disappointed. The reason that Cassie and Adam’s attraction was so great in the books is that they never thought they were going to see each other again. When they bump into each other at school and she finds out he’s Diana’s boyfriend MY TEENAGE SOUL WEPT (I was ridiculously book-emo).

The CW series varies greatly from the books because in the books there are twelve kids, not six. I really loved the Henderson brothers in the book and I’m a bit sad that it doesn’t look like they’re going to be included.

The biggest let down of the episode is that the writers buried the lead. They threw the information on Cassie that she was a powerful witch and she was in complete disbelief. Had they waited for her to come to grips with it within the next few episodes it would have been a little bit more believable then having her run to the rescue of Faye within moments of the episode conclusion.

I will give it a few more episodes because I am a huge fan of the Nick character and I really want to see what they do with him, and I’d like to see who this Melissa girl is. I don’t remember her from the books.

You’re a Gamer? Date Over.

This post is strictly my opinion and may not reflect the opinion of everyone at Nerds in Babeland.

Good Idea: Writing for a Website that Caters to Nerd/Geek Culture Bad Idea: Admitting on that site that you rejected a guy BECAUSE you considered him a Nerd/Geek


I don’t think I have ever ranted on this site but I am incensed. Judging from the outrage in the nerdverse, I’m not the only one. Recently a “former intern for Gizmodo” posted a scathing article on how she met and briefly dated a former World Champion of Magic: The Gathering.

For those of you that don’t know what Magic: The Gathering is, it is a collectable card game published by Wizards of the Coast. Magic can be played by two or more people each using a deck of cards and each game represents a battle between the players.

The author of the post wrote about how she decided to make an OKCupid account one night that she was intoxicated. Already, the article was off to a fantastic start. To justify her joining the site, she called it an “online dating experiment”. After several weeks of various creepy messages she received a genuinely pleasant message from a “normal” guy (italicized to foreshadow her shocking revelation) and they arranged a date.

They met for a drink and started a genuine conversation. At some point in the date, he revealed that he played Magic: The Gathering and that he was the World Champion. She decided to research him after the date.

On their second date, she brought up the topic and continued to barrage him with questions about it. After she opened up that dialog she then decided that they had nothing to talk about (even though their initial meeting started with “normal” banter). In her article she accused him of lying in his profile.

With the way the internet reacted, I’m obviously not the only person angry about this farce of an article. Yes, everyone has their own versions of deal breakers when it comes to dating. I’m not judging her for thinking that she didn’t have anything in common with him. She doesn’t.

My judgment is reserved for her accusation that he was hiding his World Championship title and therefore lying. With an online profile, you tend to include random pieces about yourself that you think of as your type. It’s not a professional resume. I don’t know who would spend hours crafting an online profile – maybe a drunk girl?

Okay, I am a little irritated about her dogging on his nerd cred. It sets everyone back. It feels like every month or so someone makes a comment about how a hot girl can’t be nerdy. Switching the gender makes this story a bit more interesting to read and a lot more depressing. Whatever it is that you enjoy in a nerdy/dorky/geeky capacity, it isn’t the only part of your personality.

What the author fails to realize is that she was having a great time with this guy and he makes a brief comment about his accomplishment and I’m sure she pictured a big red “rejected” stamp smash into his forehead. But still, she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, dinner in New York is expensive.

Obviously I was livid about this. Typically when I’m upset I enlist the email chain of awesomeness. I sent them the article and some of their replies are included below.

Marissa: In fairness, the one-man show based on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s life story isn’t necessarily something I’d want sprung on me as first-date fodder either. But I’m not surprised she’s single.

Seth: My issue is with her accusing the guy of lying on his profile. He never lied, unless he said “Hi, my name is Josh and I DEFINITELY DO NOT PLAY MAGIC BECAUSE ONLY LOSERS PLAY MAGIC AND I AM A SOCIALLY SUCCESSFUL HIP URBAN PROFESIONAL.”

Marissa: Unless OKCupid specifically asks you to divulge your nerd/geek tendencies, there’s no lying. The only lying going on is the difference between the person she IMAGINED/WANTED him to be, and the person he actually is. And all the MTG “offensiveness” is bull. Would she expect someone to dump her for wearing an ironic (kind of but not really) New Kids on The Block t-shirt? Who does she think she is, and what does she think she deserves is the question?

Marissa: I just hope that all those guys out there complaining about a girl who judges them, aren’t busy judging another girl by similar standards.

Seth: Clueless hypocrisy is a basic ingredient to online relationships, isn’t it?

Ali: Now you’re just saying smart things to get quoted, aren’t you…

I was originally not going to write anything about this as I loathe to give her anymore publicity, but I found something on twitter that hurt my heart.

@Jonnymagic00: “I know there are a lot of younger guys out there who are thinking, “I can’t let girls know I play magic or they won’t think I’m cool.’”

This was posted by the man who she didn’t mention by name but was easy to find. He doesn’t hide his gaming. It’s surprising that she waited so long to Google him when she encouraged him to Google her. I doubt if she realizes that her lack of interest was evident before he even laid his Magic cards on the table.


For the original, unedited post

For the US post.

Jon Finkel opened up a Reddit IAMA/Ask me anything page on Tuesday morning on Reddit answering the questions he could about the article.

Nerd Rap: A Gateway Drug That Won’t Put You In Jail.

Oh Hai Internets! I have been spending a lot of time in my own head as of late (what with my jaw trying to kill me. Long story) and I finally feel well enough to dropkick the moon!

During the time that I have been immersed in a spiral of hate, I have backed away from websites so as to not angrily type something. Instead, I focused all of my energy on something that I love beyond measure – MUSIC!

To give this the nerdy twist it deserves, I have been infatuated as of late with two new types of rap that are quickly growing near and dear to my heart. No, it’s not Jonathan Coulton’s cover of “Baby Got Back”, even though that cuddles me with the gentle caress of a Peter Gabriel song (shut up). What I’m referring to are the completely different but totally palatable nerd rap forms of nerdcore and chap-hop.

But Ali, what are these two that you speak of?


First, I will start with Nerdcore. On the Netflix, I took a gander at the documentary “Nerdcore Rising” and found that it’s… well… nerdy rap. I wish I could describe it more definitively, but if you have read anything by me you know that I type faster than I think (and you get a bunch of internal dialogue in the process). These artists rhyme about anything from politics to science fiction and the name seems to have been coined by self described Nerdcore Musician MC Frontalot in the 2000 song “Nerdcore Hiphop”.

Here’s one of my favorites from MC Frontalot

From what I can tell the majority of this genre is self-published online and it is so full of DIY possibilities I bet Jackie’s brain is exploding somewhere. In fact, I want Jackie to do a nerdcore rap under the guise MC Cephalopod.

There isn’t a specific sound to this genre of hip hop, but a common theme is sampling from the most random places imaginable. Classical Music, movies, video games, and if it hasn’t been done yet, I would imagine samples from beakers and test tubes filled with various elements.

If you have any interest in checking out some artists, please have a listen to MCFrontalot, Optimus Rhyme (raddest name EVER!), MC Plus+, and Monzy. Or, if you need a gateway into this subgenre, listen to Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy” parody as it steeps your ear canal in a three minute nerdgasm.

Chap-Hop: The Gentleman’s Rap.

Chap-Hop is infinitely harder to explain as there is no dedicated wiki page to it and that is just rotten.

I do not know the origin of Chap-Hop, only how I was introduced to it. I had just finished podcasting with a bunch of friends and we were playing the “Have you seen it?” game with the YouTubes. This game is basically showing people something that you like that they have never seen. Enter Professor Elemental’s “Fighting Trousers”.

I cannot stop listening to his CD “The Indifference Engine”. As you listen through the tracks, you find that there are traditional rap themes tackled in each song. There is the dis song, the song about the ladies, the song about imbibing copious amounts of mind altering substances, the song about money, the song about living conditions.

I could probably sum this up by saying that Professor Elemental is a Steampunk inspired character that burst forth from the mind of rapper Paul Alborough. I would love to talk to this man, but I’m afeared that I might daze out as I’m a sucker for the English accent.

He is currently in a feud with another Chap-Hop artist named Mr. B. As this is a very obscure art form, I have no other recommendations for you. I do, however, want him to come to the US for a lengthier tour than the three day stint at the Steampunk World’s Fair this May. I know this isn’t a platform to beg for money, but if someone wants to get me a ticket and hotel room I will go to the Steampunk World’s Fair and do video recaps. It’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make.

Ascended Masters: Help Fund This Film!

I’m sure many of you have heard about a website called “Kickstarter”. If you aren’t aware of it, it is a way to fund and follow creativity.

Recently I was drawn to a kickstarter campaign for a feature film called Ascended Masters. I had the priviledge of conversing with Shawna Baca, the writer/director and she was gracious enough to answer some questions for me.

How much of the work for the film has already been completed?
The first feature screenplay is complete, II and III are outlined. I have concept art, test visual effects, did some animatics on the short and put together a Vision Book for the trilogy. I am now gearing up to do costume designs.

Your world is extremely well thought out and quite different from the one we currently live in. Are you worried that the story might be lost between massive amounts of exposition?
I have been developing the story for three years now. It is actually set in pre-apocalyptic times and the apocalyptic war that is strategically aligning itself to take place. I’m not worried about expositional dialogue. My screenplay is not just filled with “Watch out…” “Run!” “Move…” I am a storyteller and a filmmaker and it’s my first and foremost job to tell a compelling story that has action scenes that make sense and visual effects that compliment the storytelling of my characters journey.

Your video on kickstarter explains a lot about what the story will include, but is there anything that you realized you had forgotten until after you uploaded it? (happens to me all the time)
There is so much that is not in the Kickstarter video. That would be an hour video explaining who all the Ascended Masters are, who are comprised of the Dark Brotherhood, what the war is really about, the story arc, and all the plot points. It’s so much more than just destroying mankind and Earth. What people see in the video is just an tagline and glimpse of the story. I will say this, it’s centered around one Ascended Master, who has to be born back into human form to fulfill a mission that will end the war.

$20,000 isn’t much of a budget. How did you choose that number as a goal?
$20,000 is not a lot of money when you are trying to add visual effects and stunts into the equation. Any money raised on Kickstarter is going to production insurance costs, costumes, special effects make up, wire and rigging equipment, visual effects and post costs. If you add those numbers up, we still have to depend on some favors, friends and family rates, and in-kind sponsorships. The idea of making a small piece/short film of the feature trilogy is to showcase the world I am trying to create. Also, being a female writer/director in the sci-fi world is an uphill battle. I thought it was important to get a jumpstart.

Is this your first kickstarter venture? How did you come upon that site?
Yes, this is my first venture. A few friends of mine had projects on the site. I thought I should give it a try, move with the current trend and also really to get the word out about what I’m trying to do. I’ve listened to some audio lectures that Thomas Mai, conducted on crowd-funding platforms and social media. He talked about how social media is a good tool to see if there is an audience your film. People on the internet are not afraid of expressing their opinions and they will tell you if your concept sucks or not. Fortunately, I have received a lot of messages from people all over the world, who have expressed a liking towards my Ascended Masters project. That’s a good sign! Now, I guess I put it out in the universe and I will have to see what she brings back!

What drove you to put your project up on kickstarter?
I have never raised money through a crowd-funding platform before. It’s a whole new thing for me. Although, social networking and crowd-funding are now coming to the forefront because of where we are at with technology. Today, I can reach out to people I don’t know across the world, that I would have never been able to reach to before. That’s exciting. I think Kickstarter is a having a great impact on fulfilling artists dreams for those projects that are successful. I think it gives more independent filmmakers power to create. It’s harder to rely on production companies and studios to read your projects and greenlight them. This way, you are getting out there.

I finished my barrage of questions by asking her to tell me in 140 characters or less what Ascended Masters is about.
“Ascended Masters is about a group of celestial beings who descend down to Earth to stop the Dark Brotherhood (an allegiance of Underworld Gods and demons) from killing off mankind and destroying Earth.”

Technically, she went over by 60 characters, but she’s a writer so I’m amazed she reigned it in that much. 🙂

Please visit the Ascended Masters kickstarter page for more information on the feature. The pledges need to reach $20,000 by April 22, or all of the current pledges will be refunded.

To find the Kickstarter Page for Ascended Masters and/or to make a pledge, please click here:
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Sun, Fun, and THAT YODA GUY!

I’ve been pretty silent on NiB for awhile.

Recently I went on a vacation with my family. I thought that I couldn’t possibly find a way to nerd out on my trip as I was going to the Caribbean, but I was wrong!

During one of the information sessions on the cruise, I was super excited about going to see “That Yoda guy” aka Nick Maley. Nick was involved in the creation of that lovable green Jedi Master.

We floated over to St. Maarten on the dutch side of the island and I was thrilled to find that Nick was actually located on that side on the main drag.

Maley worked on 53 movies (including Superman, Krull and Highlander) before “trading his Ferrari for a sailboat” and making his home on St. Maarten.

When we entered, I have to admit I was a little trigger happy before his wife asked us nicely not to take a lot of photos. His gallery was separated into the artwork that he has worked on since settling in the Caribbean, and a private gallery that we would have been able to view if our purchase was high enough. Sadly, we didn’t reach that level (we were off by ten dollars and I didn’t want to beg and plead to go back there), but we could see a little bit of the private gallery through the fenced off area.

Nick’s work is incredibly impressive, especially his figure studies. He captures expressions and emotions very well and it is obvious that he still dreams of Dagobah.
Mr. Maley was very kind and courteous and his gallery showcased a balance of his past and present endeavors. I was nice to meet someone outside of the sometimes stressful convention atmosphere. He was also kind enough to point us in the correct direction of the delicious native cuisine (curries and jerks! curries and jerks! om nom nom nom!)
If you do happen to make it to St. Maarten at some point in your life, I highly suggest visiting the dutch side and spending a few minutes with “That Yoda Guy”.

If you want to hear more about my trip (which was far less nerdy than I was accustomed to), I made a video recap.

For more information on Nick Maley, please visit his site. In the navigational bar there is a link to visit his Star Wars history blog where he recounts some stories from his past work.

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