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September 18, 2013 at 9:46am

Nerd Alert: Whedonverse unleashes "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."


When talking about comic books and nerd stuff, in general, one of the first things that comes up has to be Superman. Then, you'd probably talk about Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Wonder Twins, Ant Man, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Howard the Duck and a couple hours later, you'd probably mention that shadowy organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D.

And, of course, your favorite iteration of S.H.I.E.L.D. would universally be agreed upon to be the 1998 classic TV movie, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield, starring David Hasselhoff and written, oddly enough, by David S. Goyer, of Dark City, Blade and Batman Begins. There's just no arguing with that kind of quality.

Mistaking the nation's sighs of resignation at Nick Fury and company's token cameos in the last several Marvel comic films and their involvement in the superhero jumble of The Avengers as enthusiastic seals of approval, Hollywood has taken the initiative to run this franchise even further into the ground by giving the agency of S.H.I.E.L.D. its own television show.

"Yes," a chorus of nerds will scream in unison, "but Joss Whedon is the creative force behind ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! How can it be so bad?"


Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Pop Culture,

September 9, 2013 at 11:10am

Nerd Alert!: RiffTrax Live, Alec Clayton theater, Zombie Tag Takeover! and more ...

Drop by Olympia Century Theaters Sept. 12 for a hilarious riff on a masterpiece of alien slaughter propaganda!

Yo, our weekly baggie of Blue Sky is back, bitch! Nerd Alert is the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

I have to admit I'm rather jealous of Rev. Adam McKinney, who alternates weeks with me preparing this column. Next week he gets the release of Stephen King's novel Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, and the debut of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on network TV. I, on the other hand, get the mid-September doldrums. It's enough to make me curl up with my new pile of Star Wars comics, including the long-overdue The Star Wars miniseries from J. W. Rinzler, based on George Lucas's first (and intriguingly different!) draft of the screenplay. The Force of Others is strong with this one!


September 3, 2013 at 11:37am

Nerd Alert!: Sensory Overloads night and video game movies

"ICH HUNGER": The German expressionist art film will meet Tacoma's BareFoot Collective Sept. 21 at The New Frontier Lounge. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Oh, hello there. I didn't notice you peering over at me as I write my first Nerd Alert. What's that you say? You'd like to hear about some nerdy news and happenings for the near future? Well, I'm not Zoltar, so lower your expectations. And get out of that oversized suit, because I'm not going to magically make you a grown up. Quite the opposite.

Thinking about my nerdiest interests, my thoughts first turned to movies. So, I thought I'd get you up to speed on some movie-related business. A note: if you are in a large group of girls, please refrain from reading these events aloud.

Sept. 21: Sensory Overloads

OK, yes, there will be punk music. And yes, some of that music will be done by local favorites like Girl Trouble, Red Hex, and Trees and Timber. And yes, this is a function that will be held at a bar.


Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Music, Tacoma,

August 26, 2013 at 11:00am

Nerd Alert: Get your geek on, Aug. 29-Sept. 11

Getting ready for a "roll, roll, roll in ze hay."

The Garthim return! Did you miss us? Nerd Alert is the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

The first few weeks of September are a quiet time of gentle reflection in the geek community, as one by one costumed heroes disappear from our multiplexes and we await the fall TV schedule. Out there, in the muggle world, jerseyed superfans are getting ready for some football; yet we remain unfazed. In fact, the closest we come to big-league sports fandom is Madden NFL 25, which hits the field this week. Also available as of Aug. 27 is the page-one rewrite Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn. Listen, Square Enix: that "Final" thing sounded ill-conceived after the first adventure, let alone a baker's dozen.

Friday, Aug. 30

If you're a geek of a certain age or, for that matter, anyone who loves cinematic comedy, you know exactly what happens when someone says the name "Frau Blücher." You know how to bring home the chorus of "Puttin' on the Ritz." You know who made a yummy sound, and you suspect Mel Brooks's 1974 masterpiece Young Frankenstein may be one of the greatest comedies in American cinema history. Whether you've seen it or not, we insist you follow your grentfadda's footshtops to the Washington State Capital Museum, where "Movies at the Mansion" presents an outdoor screening of the film. If it's brisk that night, some varm milk, perhaps?

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, 9 p.m., Washington State Capital Museum, 211 21st Ave. SW, Olympia, $2 suggested donation, 360.753.2580


September 25, 2012 at 1:56pm

Tacoman to air on Jeopardy Tomorrow

Ease into your recliner tomorrow night and watch Tacoman Mike Malaier take on Alex Trebek.

From a press release received this afternoon at Weekly Volcano Headquarters...

Tune-in Wed., Sept 26th to watch Mike Malaier, a 34-year-old attorney from Tacoma, WA compete on Jeopardy, America's Favorite Quiz Show®.

Hopefully he kicks ass tomorrow. Tacoma represent!

Filed under: Tacoma, Nerd Alert!,

April 30, 2012 at 11:50am

Get your geek on, April 30-May 6

And we're back! Nerd Alert is the Spew blog's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak. After a slow start, this week will kick you squarely in the geek balls, then stroll off with your nerd Lunchables. The 2012 summer movie season is upon us!

Monday, April 30

This was supposed to be the day Daniel H. Wilson signed copies of his highly entertaining sci-fi thriller Robopocalypse (soon to be a Spielberg extravaganza) in Tacoma. Then, at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time this morning, Skynet became self-aware. In a panic, King Books had to pull the plug. This did not stop Judgment Day. Nothing can stop Judgment Day. Anybody not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day, get it? You're dead already! Everything you see is GONE!


Friday, May 4

Oh, children, finish your Halo campaigns, avoid Internet spoilers, throw your money at Fandango, and break out the drool mops and 3D glasses, because after years of character-building, the epic movie geeksplosion of Marvel's The Avengers has finally arrived! Robert Downey, Jr. as billionaire playboy alcoholic Tony Stark. Mark Ruffalo as the Not-So-Jolly Green Giant. Scarlett Johansson as leaked naked Twitpics. Samuel L. Jackson as a Bad Motherfrakker with poor depth perception. Earth's mightiest heroes band together to defeat (one presumes) fallen demigod Loki and his army of Chitauri E.T.s. Meanwhile, writer-director Joss Whedon, he of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Cabin in the Woods pantheon status, not to mention the Eisner-winning Astonishing X-Men comics series, has combined his own forces with Digital Domain, ILM, Pixomondo, Weta Digital, Lola VFX, and several thousand Korean sweatshop animators to create the greatest single collision of superbeings since the Old Testament. I already have my Regal IMAX ticket. Even my wife, whose sole lifetime comic book purchase was a Chick Bible tract from junior high church camp, is on board. This may be the only non-October event at which you'll ever get to wear that Captain America outfit in the back of your closet, so for the love of sweet Kirby, do not be the last kid on your block to see this movie. See it again. Then go see my friend John Munn at Comic Book Ink and increase his kids' college fund.

Saturday, May 5

It's Cinco de Mayo, the day La Raza celebrates the anniversary of...uhh...the uh...no, I mean, it was when the uh...wait...no...My people celebrate the impending death of Lou Dobbs! Oh, who cares why we do it, there are margaritas involved. And don't pretend you don't like sombreros.

I've never looked up the word "nerd" on Wikipedia, but I'm 93% sure the entry includes a picture of Gandalf. If your immediate response to that remark was "White or Grey?" then you, my autism-scaling amigo, are a nerd. Google goggle, google goggle, one of us! Charles Ross is also a nerd, and a fine actor besides, who inspired us all by turning his nerdlihood into his livelihood. How? By being the One Man responsible for a show called One Man Lord of the Rings-a title which, like Snakes on a Plane or Debbie Does Dallas, doubles as its own tag line. Ross will stage the Battle of Pelennor Fields singlehandedly and portray over 40 characters, including Bilbo, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Gollum, and Sméagol. And if your mouth just flew open to protest that Gollum and Sméagol are the same character, then we know how you'll be spending your Saturday night. Fly, you fools!

[Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, One Man Lord of the Rings, $42, 3 and 7:30 p.m., 915 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.591.5890]

For the first time ever, Thurston County musicians will be feted in some cases, cruelly disappointed in most others at the Oly Music Awards. After all the hoopla over live events supposedly going the way of the dodo at Capitol Theater, local note-slingers will finally have their chance to put on a shredded tux, meet and greet ardent fans, insist Beyoncé made the best music video ever (which, let's face it, she kind of did), then have sex with the abovementioned fans. We have no idea who's hosting or nominated, but it's a fair bet Ryan Seacrest is involved. Of course, not all your favorites can win, so the event will be as enjoyable and irritating as any awards show. (Or that Foster the People album. Music zing!)

[Capitol Theater, Oly Music Awards, $3, 8 p.m., 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, 360.754.5378]

Speaking of questionable music, Saturday is also the night Van Halen and Kool & the Gang rock the Tacoma Dome (7:30 p.m.). Uh, together. As if they were somehow related. In any way. Whatsoever. Aw, might as well jump.

Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor, the Force be with you, and your CG Hulk be even halfway believable.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!,

April 23, 2012 at 10:52am

NERD ALERT!: Get your geek on, April 23-29

SATAN: Olympia Satanists hold their monthly meeting in the Olympia Center Wednesday, April 25.


And we're back! Nerd Alert is the Spew blog's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak. As a matter of fact, this column took me hours to write because I kept getting distracted by the Scale of the Universe website.

Monday, April 23

Ken Jennings, you'll remember, was the Mormon mentat who won 74 straight games of Jeopardy! back in 2004. All in all, Jennings earned more than $3 million on the show, only to have his carbon-based heinie handed to him by Watson the IBM supercomputer. He then went on to win half a million bucks on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, author three books, and top the rookie division of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in his first time competing. This personable, telegenic specimen from the next phase of human evolution will be at Powell's City of Books tonight, signing his national bestseller Maphead and generally reminding you what a moron you are by comparison.

[Powell's City of Books, Ken Jennings book signing, free, 7:00 p.m., 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Portland, 503.228.4651]

Wednesday, April 25

Olympia Satanists hold their monthly meeting in the Olympia Center. Personally, I have no interest in standing with the cloven-hooved Lord of Ordure - that South Park movie effectively declawed Old Scratch - but I advertise his conclave chiefly to counter the actions of a club of Evergreen fundamentalists who keep removing Satanists' flyers. (Not cool, Christians. A simple "get behind me" will do.) I was surprised to learn Olympia Satanists have a blog and a Facebook page; topics covered there include a hidden egg project, prayers of gratitude for fornication, and how to grow a silly "Satanic" Penn Jillette beard. Even more diabolical, they promise to lure you into their evil embrace through the strategic application of cookies. Not the Internet kind-just...cookies. Those fork-tailed bastards.

[The Olympia Center, Olympia Satanists gathering, free (unless you value your mortal soul), 7:30 p.m., 222 Columbus St. NW, Olympia, olympia.worshipsatan.org]

Friday, April 27

Furries unite - it's Procession of the Species weekend in Olympia! Yes, it's Oly's beloved 18th annual tribute to natural selection, human creativity, and the flora and fauna of planet Earth. Friday sundown brings the Luminary Procession, culminating in the release of glowing gossamer balloons over Sylvester Park Capital Lake. It's effing magical. Then, on Saturday afternoon, about 30,000 members of species H. sapiens will gather to watch a few more thousand hominids dress as gregarious wildlife. Ironically, the parade enforces a strict "no pets" policy, which seems more than a little anthropocentric for the occasion. Procession policy does, however, allow human spectators to join in the parade at any point along its route.

[The Procession of the Species, Friday, April 27 9:30 p.m., Saturday, April 28, 4:30 p.m., free, Cherry St. and Legion Way, Olympia, 360.705.1087]

Friday also marks the release date of The Pirates! Band of Misfits, a whimsical kiddie flick about, as you may well predict, a band of hapless buccaneers. We mention this movie only because it's the latest release from Aardman Animation, the quirky English outfit that gave us Chicken Run and the classic Wallace and Gromit shorts. It's been out for several weeks in the U.K., where it earned an impressive 92 percent score on the (Rotten) Tomatometer. In other words, you could do a lot worse ... like, say, The Raven, which enjoys a "freshness rating" of 23 percent as this column goes to press.

Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor, the Force be with you, and your Darwin fish car magnet unmolested.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Screens, Olympia,

April 16, 2012 at 12:43pm

NERD ALERT!: Get your geek on, April 16-22

WAYZGOOSE: It will be on the lips of every artful Tacoman this Sunday: Photo credit: Aaron Locke


And we're back! Nerd Alert is the Spew blog's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak. Did I steer you wrong with my recommendation of Cabin in the Woods? Well, did I?

Record Store Day!

Holy crap in a Cracker Barrel, Record Store Day is this Saturday, April 21! Once a year, artists unite with independent record stores to offer music you simply cannot buy online. This year's selection is incredibly diverse, offering live sets from the Black Keys and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, 7" vinyl from Foster the People and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, a limited-run, 180g vinyl from Death Cab and hundreds of other items. Participating stores in the South Sound include Phantom City and Rainy Day in Oly, plus Disc Connection and Rocket Records in Tacoma. For the full roster of swag for sale, visit RecordStoreDay.com. Then show your local disk pushers some love. They deserve it.

While you're shopping, pick up a Blu-ray or DVD copy of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. This Tom Cruise blockbuster, directed briskly by animation genius Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles), was my favorite movie of 2011, and I'm in no way ashamed to say it. Did Moneyball or A Separation have an action scene set on the side of the 2,716-foot Burj Khalifa tower in Abu Dhabi? They did not.

Friday, April 20

My fellow theater critic Joe Izenman can barely contain himself about Terminus, a verse play by Mark O'Rowe about a woman who falls off a construction crane, gets saved from certain death by a worm demon, and then has sex with said demon. So yeah, same old, same old. For those of you who don't follow the 21st century playwriting scene - which, let's face it, is most of you, so listen up! - Ireland is where the magic is happening. O'Rowe is one of a handful of Gaelic dudes penning brutal, foulmouthed, shock-a-minute masterpieces. Harlequin staged The Seafarer by Conor McPherson, Riot to Follow just closed Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, and now director David Domkowski has his filthy way with Terminus. Don't take your grandma ... unless, of course, Grandma is a huge William Friedkin fan. That'd be weird.

[The Space, Terminus, $14.50, 729 Court C (Opera Alley), Tacoma, http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/235270]

Saturday, April 21

At 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., the Seattle Cinerama will screen a gorgeous 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey. "My God, it's full of stars!" You know, like Keir Dullea. Still ... trippy.

At 10 p.m., Patton Oswalt has a new hour of standup on Comedy Central, called Finest Hour, followed by new Paul F. Tompkins. "Wackity, schmackity doo!"

Sunday, April 22

There are otherwise button-down, Wonder-bread, vanilla South Sounders who lose their ever-lovin' shizz over Wayzgoose. We're talking full-on fanboy meltdowns. Tacoma's "Letterpress and Book Arts Extravaganza" might seem an odd choice for this column, but I've never met a geek yet who didn't have at least some appreciation for the siren song of an artfully published book. Did you know that a wayzgoose is the annual feast thrown by a master printer for the staff of his or her press? And did you know this year will mark the third Wayzgoose appearance of C.L.A.W., the Cartoonists' League of Absurd Washingtonians? And did you further know that Jeff's Ice Cream will be there, hawking frozen delights from a trailer on the back of a bicycle? Bicycle ice cream, people. The man sells bicycle ice cream!

[King's Books, Wayzgoose, free, 218 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.8801]

Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor, the Force be with you, and your dialogue be written by Aaron Sorkin.

LINK: Past Nerd Alert! columns

April 9, 2012 at 10:29am

NERD ALERT!: The week in geek chic diversions (April 9-15)

"THE RAID: REDEMPTION": A pow-pow combat between a Jakarta SWAT team and the swarm of killers they unearth during a raid.

And we're back! Nerd Alert is the Spew blog's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

Monday, April 9

A week before two headline gigs at Coachella, Thom Yorke and company storm Seattle with their withering one-two punch of melodic melancholy and ornery ennui. I saw Radiohead play the Greek in Hollywood a few years ago, and they totally pull it off live. In related nerdy music news, Elvis Costello plays the Paramount on Thursday the 12th. Also, Martha Quinn is still adorable.

  • Key Arena, Radiohead, $82.84 after fees (yikes), 7:30 p.m., 305 N. Harrison St., Seattle, 800.745.3000

Thursday, April 12

Justin Stang, usually of Sideways Reign, and Jim Elenteny, ordinarily of Seattle band Nefarious Jones, unite to form the side project Science! And yes, I am excited, but that exclamation point is in the name of the project and associated EP. (Feel free to pronounce it with a click like the Kalahari bush people.) I know three things about Stang and Elenteny: they were voted Best New Band in our 2012 Olympia poll, they're playing The Royal Lounge on Thursday, and their project is called Science! so they're OK by me (and, I suspect, Thomas Dolby). If you're busy Thursday night, they also play Saturday, April 14 at 4th Ave Tav.

  • The Royal Lounge, Science!, $5, 9 p.m., 311 Capitol Way, Olympia, 360.705.0760]

Friday, April 13

Sorry, beloved wife, but you hate horror movies so I'll be seeing The Cabin in the Woods without you. It's a horror/sci-fi film co-written by Joss Whedon, who a.) is responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in its TV incarnation) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, b.) directed Serenity and The Avengers for the big screen, and c.) once called me a bastard to my face. That's a true story. Yes, I probably deserved it. Cabin is reminiscent of early Sam Raimi flicks starring the great and heroically-chinned Bruce Campbell, who was once very nice to me to my face. That's a true story. My point is I know people.

In other Friday the 13th cinema news, The Raid: Redemption opens at The Grand. Apparently it's Die Hard in Indonesia, with lusty, vivid top notes of Kickpuncher: the Movie. Ernest Hardy of the Village Voice says, "Redemption lives up to its viral hype." Your inner 12-year-old says, "Shooting guns PUNCHING explosions and KICKING! Explosions! Bam! GRAH!," then swoons from testosterone and sugar.

  • The Grand Cinema, Raid: the Redemption, $5.50-$7, 606 S. Fawcett, Tacoma, 253.593.4474

Finally, did you know DC is making prequel comics about the Watchmen characters for release in June - and Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore are in no way involved? In the words of Nute Gunray: "Is that legal?!"

Until next week, may the odds be ever in your favor, the Force be with you, and your dreams be visited by Kari Byron.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Books, Screens, Olympia, Tacoma,

April 2, 2012 at 11:28am

NERD ALERT!: The week in geek chic diversions (April 2-8)


Welcome to the first in a semi-recurring series of Spew blog entries devoted to all things nerdly. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

Monday, April 2

Westeros hangover. Take it easy and drink plenty of fluids.

Tuesday, April 3

Technically issue #1 of Avengers Vs. X-Men doesn't street until Wednesday, but Nick Fury expects you to be better prepared. The Avengers movie is only a month away, so stifle your raging nerd boner by burying your nose in the glorious work of industry legends Brian Bendis and John Romita, Jr. Gabi's giving away free swag to early purchasers, so stick it to the Phoenix Force (and that smirking douche Cyclops) once and for all ... at least till issue #2.

I've never met a geek yet who didn't love a few hours of drunken trivia. Tuesday night is Quiz Night at The Swiss, and yes, that means cash prizes. The game room boasts foosball, an antique shuffleboard table, and an HD console hunting game called Big Buck Safari. Let's face it, fellow geeks: that's the closest we'll ever get to real danger. I still have PTSD from Atari Jungle Hunt.

  • The Swiss, Quiz Night, free, 7 p.m., 1904 S. Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2821

Friday, April 6

Look, you can celebrate the vernal fertility rite however you want, but for my money, the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess Eostre all but demands you join Lacey Parks & Rec at the Third Annual Adult Flashlight Egg Scramble. (My wife received the gift of an adult flashlight at her bachelorette party, and let me tell you, it enlivens any occasion.) The event boasts an over-40 field, a ladies-only field, and if things get crazy at the punch bowl, a clothing-optional field. Good Friday indeed!

  • Regional Athletic Complex, Adult Flashlight Easter Scramble, $5, 9 p.m., 8345 Steilacoom Rd. SE, Olympia, 360.491.0857

On the other hand, I've seen Hell's Belles, the all-female AC/DC tribute band; and their guitarist, Adrian Conner, will blow your face bones clean out the back of your skull. This represents a Class Five "missing this event is not an option" type situation, so ... sorry, Jesus and Eostre. We'll catch back up with you on Sunday.

  • Capitol Theater, Hell's Belles, $10-$15, 8:30 p.m., 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia, 360.754.6670

Spoiler alert for next week: Radiohead plays Seattle next Monday. Why, yes, I can sing OK Computer from beginning to end from memory! ... which makes me even sadder than Thom Yorke.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Olympia, Tacoma, Books, Music, Games,

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